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U.S., China set amibitious new goals for cutting GHG emissions

Former White House, U.S. Energy Department official called it "the most important bilateral climate announcement ever"



BEIJING—The United States and China have unveiled ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, aiming to inject fresh momentum into the global fight against climate change ahead of a make-or-break treaty to be finalized next year.

President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would move much faster in cutting pollution, with a goal to reduce emissions by 26- to 28 per cent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.

Earlier in his presidency, Obama set a goal to cut emissions by 17 per cent by 2020.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country’s emissions are still growing as it builds new coal plants, didn’t commit to cut emissions by a specific amount.

Rather, he set a target for China’s emission to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible.

He also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels.

The unexpected breakthrough by the world’s two largest polluters reflected both nations’ desire to display a united front on climate change, blunting arguments from developing countries that have balked at demands that they get serious about cutting emissions.

Yet it was unclear how feasible it would be for either country to meet their goals, and Obama’s pledge was sure to confront tough opposition from ascendant Republicans in Congress.

“This is, in my view, the most important bilateral climate announcement ever,” said David Sandalow, formerly a top environmental official at the White House and the Energy Department. “It sends the signal the two largest emitters in the world are working together to address this problem.”

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