The U.S. and China make a climate deal

The two top greenhouse gas polluters in the world just struck a climate deal.

The US pledged for more rigid emission standards, and in a move no one was expecting, China pledged to stop national emissions from growing by 2030. This partnership is an attempt to try to get other nations to pledge such actions, according to the New York Times.

COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST: President Obama stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they listen to the Chinese national anthem during a welcome ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 12, 2014. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Here are some numbers:

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.

China’s pledge to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, is even more remarkable. To reach that goal, Mr. Xi pledged that so-called clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.

So, to recap, the US pledged to emit less, less than Obama’s Climate Action speech claimed last year, and China is pledging to cap their emissions, which they have never done before.

Where does this leave us? Well, realistically, this will be pretty difficult to achieve. It is one thing for Obama to pledge something, but he has to face opposition in our conservative Congress. And, in order to meet these goals, “the United States will need to double the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average from 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent per year between 2020 and 2025” according to the Washington Post. What do these numbers mean? Basically, we will have to reduce carbon emissions a lot faster than we anticipated.

China is a completely different story. The Washington Post reports that China opens a new coal plant every 8 to 10 days, and their population is still on the rise (which means more carbon emissions, obviously). Also, this:

The scale of construction for China to meet its goals are huge even by Chinese standards. It must add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generation capacity by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generation capacity in the United States.

Despite all of these hurdles, hopefully this now-public partnership will show other nations that climate change such an important issue that CHINA and the UNITED STATES are part of a united front. Let’s hope.

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