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The US-China climate announcement is significant for its symbolism

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World Coal,

The recent announcement between China and the US targeting carbon emission cuts “marks a huge step forward”, according to Thompson Reuters Point Carbon, despite the targets representing only a modest increase in emissions cuts than would be achieved under existing policies.

The US announced that it would cut greenhouse case emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030, while China committed to peak its CO2 emissions by 2030 – the first time the country has put a date on this – and to increase the share of electricity generation by non-fossil sources to 20%.

Despite the announcement, emissions from both countries would continue to rise for “at least another decade”, according to Frank Melum, analyst at Point Carbon.

“We calculated how the announced targets will affect the chances to meet the 2°C target, concluding that the carbon budget will run out in 2041 – only 5 years later than a business-as-usual scenario,” Melum continued.

However, the importance of the agreement comes in its potential impact on climate talks to be concluded in Paris next year: “The fact that the targets were announced jointly by the two presidents speaks to a sense of mutual trust between the world’s two largest emitters,” said Haege Fjelheim, also of Point Carbon.

“It ends the political staring contest between the US and China, which has characterized the international climate change negotiations for year and injects a much sought momentum on the road to Paris,” Fjelheim concluded.

With the announcement, the US and China have joined the EU in announcing post-2020 targets to reduce carbon emissions, accounting for nearly half of global emissions.

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