China and US strike 'historic' greenhouse gas emissions deal
World's two largest polluters pledge to cap carbon emissions ahead of major climate talks next year
China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged for the first time to cap its carbon emissions as part of an "historic" deal with US President Barack Obama
The country's leader Xi Jinping has not set a specific target, but said emissions would be reduced by 2030 or earlier. He also set a goal to increase the proportion of non-fossil fuels to 20 per cent of China's energy mix over the next 15 years.
The US has committed to plans to cut its emissions to at least 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, an increase from its previous target of 17 per cent by 2020.
"We have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change," said Obama during a state visit to Beijing. "Today, I am proud we can announce a historic agreement."
But the goals will be "difficult" for the two countries, who together account for about 45 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, warns the Washington Post.
Obama faces stiff opposition on climate issues from Republicans, while the scale of the construction programme required for China to meet its goals is huge even by Chinese standards.
China must add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generating capacity by 2030, says the Post, which is "more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to the total electricity generating capacity of the United States".
Martin Patience, BBC Beijing correspondent, notes that Xi has been under growing public pressure to clean up the country's "smog-ridden" cities. "What's debatable is whether the two countries can actually achieve their goals," he says. "But with this announcement both China and the US have brought fresh momentum to the climate change issue.
Commentators say the deal will put pressure on other countries to "follow their lead" and energise negotiations currently underway to set new post-2020 targets when climate negotiators meet in Paris for major global climate talks in December of next year.