U.S. & China announce carbon emissions deal; but the non-binding agreement is sparse on specifics

(Photo credit: Cathy via Flickr Creative Commons)

The world’s two most egregious air polluters – the U.S. and China – announced a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions during the next 20 years. In Beijing Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the U.S. intends to get at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China’s President Xi Jingping was slightly less concrete, saying he planned for the country to reach its height of carbon pollution by “around 2030.” The peak, the Chinese President said, will result from what he called an “energy revolution” in the country where many densely populated areas are beset with toxic smog. The agreement between the two countries in and of itself represents a major political step forward, but is it substantial enough to avert a global climate crisis? FSRN’s Nell Abram discussed the details of the deal with Asher Miller, Executive Director of the Post Carbon Institute.

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Nell Abram: First, is this a binding agreement?

Asher Miller: Not yet it’s not binding. They made a pledge but the proof will be in the pudding later.

NA: In the United States, international treaties require a supermajority of the Senate. Particularly after the Republican gains in last week’s midterm elections, what are the chances of this deal gaining Senate approval?

AM: Well right now I wouldn’t put them as very high, of course. And that’s, I guess, the real question, which is that would this be binding and can Obama get the support that he needs or are there other ways he can try and get this through? And then there’s also a question of us seeing through these commitments after Obama’s not president any longer. Who knows what’s going to happen after the next election.


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