China and the United States have agreed on a timetable to limit emission of greenhouse gases — a decision that will impose fresh pressure on India not to obstruct a binding treaty on climate change next year.
The breakthrough was achieved during talks between visiting U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, ending a 20-year discord between the world’s two leading economies on how to combat climate change. In a joint announcement on Wednesday, the U.S. agreed to reduce by 2025 its emission of greenhouse gases by 26 per cent to 28 per cent below its 2005 level. China stated its intent to peak emissions of carbon dioxide in 2030, if not earlier. It also agreed to raise the share of non-fossil fuels to 20 per cent, in its primary energy mix, in the next 16 years. This would entail China shifting towards clean energy generated by nuclear, wind, solar and such zero-emitting resources.
The surprise agreement on Wednesday between the United States and China on a timetable for emission cuts to combat climate change has brightened prospects for a climate deal in Paris next year. The deal can tilt the scales at negotiations at the UN climate conference slated for Paris in 2015.
Three years ago, leaders from 200 countries had agreed to finalise an agreement in Paris, which would replace the Kyoto protocol — the only legally binding treaty on cutting emissions, signed in 1997.
Analysts point out that the U.S.-China deal is in tune with the target of avoiding a dangerous 2 degree rise in temperatures across the globe.
The agreement underscores the complexity of the U.S.-China relationship, which has otherwise nosedived after Washington announced its “Asia Pivot” — a strategic shift, which includes fresh troop deployments in China’s periphery.
The joint announcement could impose fresh pressure on India not to become a deal breaker in the run up to the Paris talks. India’s per capita emissions are estimated at one-tenth of the United States and one-fourth of China, but, without a significant shift towards non-fossil fuels, its carbon footprint could rise substantially between 2020-2040, out of sync with global expectations.
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