A Fundamental Agreement

An agreement has finally been reached. The U.S. and China, the two countries with the most emissions, have reached a secretly negotiated agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This major resolution could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement, which would replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2015, in Paris. We all must be glad for the U.S.-China accord, which both Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping called a “historic agreement,” and hope that it is accomplished. We also wish that it serves as an example.

China has pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner. By then, clean energy sources would account for 20 percent of its total energy production, and it will start reducing its emissions. This compromise, limited as it may seem, represents a big effort for a country with a high growth rate and dependent almost entirely upon carbon. China must therefore get as much non-polluting energy from clean sources as it gets nowadays from carbon. As for the U.S., it has pledged to cut its emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 26-28 percent by 2030, which doubles the pace. We all hope the Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, do not oppose this agreement. However, Republican leaders have already criticized the pact.

It is essential that these two superpowers join the effort that the EU has been leading for some years to reduce climate change. The next step is to ask other countries to make similar commitments. Jean-Claude Juncker has already asked OECD countries yesterday. This is the only way to reach the 2°C warming target by the end of the century.

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