Climate Accord With China a Very Big Deal

In case you missed it, something just happened in Beijing that’s potentially a very big deal for the human race. Here’s the basics from the New York Times‘ Mark Landler:

China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.

The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.

Administration officials said the agreement, which was worked out quietly between the United States and China over nine months and included a letter from Mr. Obama to Mr. Xi proposing a joint approach, could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015.

The agreement comes on the heels of an EU commitment last month to cut carbon emissions by 40% between now and 2030.

As part of the agreement, Mr. Obama announced that the United States would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. That is double the pace of reduction it targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020.

Can the U.S. meet this goal with one of its two major parties being somewhere on the spectrum between total climate change denial and a “we can’t afford to do anything” posture reinforced by a firm alliance with fossil fuel industries? Hard to say. We’re probably about to find out how much can be done on climate change without legislation. More about that later today.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.