China and US strike climate agreement in Beijing – as it happened


– World’s two biggest emitters agree a historic climate deal in Beijing
– US will cut greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2025
– China aims to peak emissions around 2030 and “make best efforts” to peak early
– Two countries will cooperate on low carbon initiatives

Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama agreed to take joint action on climate change (Pic: Flickr/U.S. Embassy The Hague)

Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama agreed to take joint action on climate change
(Pic: Flickr/U.S. Embassy The Hague)

1200 – That’s it for today’s live blog. Thanks for following. You can read our news story outlining the key elements of the India-China agreement here.

This agreement has been a diplomatic masterpiece for leaders in Washington and Beijing, and it will provide impetus for the next round of UN climate talks, but countries are still well off cuts that will see the world avoid 2C.

The results of these secret talks have been warmly welcomed by developed countries, but what does it mean for leaders in Brazil, India, Russia and other emerging economies? And how will Australia, Canada and Japan – who have all scaled back their climate ambitions recently – react?

We’ll have more reaction from Sophie Yeo shortly; Megan Darby will consider what this means for worldwide clean energy deployment, and I’ll be looking at what this means for the UN climate negotiations. As ever, if you have any thoughts please get in contact via twitter or email.

1145 – Plenty of reaction from climate ministers around the world. Here’s a quick round-up

UK climate chief Ed Davey: “These climate announcements from the US and China are a clear sign that major economies are serious about getting a global deal in Paris next year. The UK led the drive to achieve an ambitious new EU target, and others are now following the EU’s lead and putting targets on the table. I’m looking forward to discussing with the US and China how we can achieve our shared goal of keeping the global temperature rise under 2 degrees, and avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.”




Plus the view of former Sweden foreign minister and compulsive tweeter Carl Bildt:


1130 – Not everyone is impressed with the scale or ambition of this deal between the US and China. Sunita Narain, director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment has accused Obama and Jinping of a “self-serving agreement between the world’s two biggest polluters.”

“It is a self-serving deal in which both countries have agreed to converge their per capita emissions at 12 tonne in 2030. This is a high level of emission and not in line with meeting the 2°C temperature target mandated by the IPCC,” he writes. “The recently released Synthesis Report of the IPCC mentions that the world needs to cut its emissions between 40 and 70 per cent below 2010 levels by 2050 to stay within the 2°C temperature increase pathway. The US-China deal will not allow the world to meet this benchmark.” You can read his full analysis here.

1120 – With one handshake, the leaders of China and the US have “breached the wall” that has blocked international climate action, says Joss Garman at the London-based IPPR thinktank

“This is a new era. Those people telling us that climate change is not real or is not a problem are being left stranded in the wake of historical developments. For years, they’ve said we should not act because China is doing nothing, but now China is investing more in clean energy than the whole of Europe and their emissions will peak by 2030 at the latest. This deal kicks their legs out from under them. They’ll soon be back with new disingenuous reasons for inaction, but they are increasingly submerged by facts on the ground.”

Liz Gallagher from E3G, another London-based thinktank, says one of the most important aspects of this deal (and one not covered heavily) is the boost it will give to green industry worldwide. According to the White House it will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 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 total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.

“These two countries shape the global emissions trajectory.  Their collaboration makes the prospects of a deal in Paris a safe bet. But a G2 agreement won’t get us a good enough deal. Paris will be a negotiation, not an array of emissions reduction offers. This negotiation will need to include elements such as Finance, a long-term target, legal form, transparency and adaptation. Others can’t kick back and relax, there is still much work to be done ahead of December next year”.

1115 – What’s the view in China on this deal? Chuan Zhao is the Environmental Reporter at Beijing-based 21st Century Business Herald. he sent us this reaction:

“Yes. I think it is great that two biggest emitters can deliver their climate pledges at this really important moment, which is also a landmark in the climate history. It signals political willingness of two countries to deal with the global challenge, possibly shifting the negotiating dynamism in the coming 2014 Lima climate conference and laying out a foundation to 2015 Paris deal. However, bilateral agreement does not mean that a multilateral climate regime is ready. In order to secure a safer climate, we need more ambitions from more Parties. In terms of China’s pledge, we are still waiting for its INDCs which will be submitted by the first quarter of 2015. I think it is more like a political push.” 

1105 – Climate economist Chris Hope has added his calculations into the mix. Again, what seems positive diplomatically does not always marry with the science:

“Running the agreements through the PAGE09 integrated assessment model, and throwing in the EU’s pledge to cut emissions by 40% by 2030 for good measure, it appears that these agreements on their own give us less than a 1% chance of keeping the rise in global mean temperatures below the iconic 2 degC level in 2100. Most likely the rise will be about 3.8 degC . This assumes all other regions of the world continue to allow their emissions to grow along the IPCC’s A1B business as usual scenario. Annual mean climate change impacts will still rise to about $20 trillion per year by 2100, with about 2/3 of those impacts in poor countries.”

1100 – Analysts are starting to crunch the data and work out what the US-China figures mean for global emissions trajectories. The Guardian’s environment editor Adam Vaughan says they could look something like this:

And Jonathan Gaventa from consultants E3G has worked out a quick comparison between today’s figures and the EU’s

In short, he adds, both targets will need to be “ratcheted up”.

1045 – Strong words from Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist just now:

1030 – The launch of the IEA’s 2014 World Energy Outlook has predictably been dominated by today’s news. We’ll have a full report from Megan Darby later – who’s also tweeting from the event

But if you’re interested – according to the IEA’s ‘central scenario’, which it regards as being most likely, the following is true >

– World demand for two out of the three fossil fuels – coal and oil – essentially reaches a plateau by 2040
– Renewable energy technologies gain ground rapidly, helped by falling costs and subsidies (estimated at $120 billion in 2013)
– By 2040, world energy supply is divided into four almost equal parts: low-carbon sources (nuclear and renewables), oil, natural gas and coal.

1025 – Who says Congress isn’t big on renewables? Now is the time to publish the picture I took of Capitol Hill’s wind turbine, which was, contrary to appearances, spinning furiously. And no, I won’t be giving up the day job.


1020 – How does this agreement affect efforts to curb the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a short-lived climate pollutant used in fridges? According to Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and a strong advocate of HFC actions it’s a major step forward.

“The leadership on the HFC amendment by President Obama and President Xi sets the stage to conclude the biggest, fastest piece of climate mitigation available to the world in the near-term in advance of the UN climate negotiations in Paris next December, which aims to conclude a broad-based global climate treaty.  Controlling HFCs and improving the energy efficiency of the air conditioners and other appliances that use them can provide ten to twenty percent of the climate mitigation the world need to keep the climate within safe bounds.” 

You can more about HFCs in this analysis we published recently. They’re a huge but under-reported part of the climate problem, and could account for 19% of global greenhouse gases by 2050.

1010 – Not everyone is happy with the US-China climate pact. Incoming Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of ‘war on coal’ fame says he’s having none of it. Ever.

“Our economy can’t take the president’s ideological war on coal that will increase the squeeze on middle-class families and struggling miners. This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” he said in a statement, reported by The Hill website.

1000 – There has been a huge response from civil society groups this morning. Here’s a short round-up: Executive Director May Boeve:
“Today’s announcement strengthens the case for fossil fuel divestment. The US and China reaffirming their commitment to limiting global warming to 2°C should send shockwaves through the financial markets, because the only way to meet that target is by leaving 80% of fossil fuel reserves underground. The industry’s business plan is simply incompatible with the pathways laid out today. It’s time to get out of fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions.”

EDF President Fred Krupp:
“We’re seeing the emergence of an enormously positive new dynamic between the U.S. and China: bilateral cooperation that includes specific actions within each country.”

Jennifer Morgan, Director, Climate Program, World Resources Institute:
“The U.S. target shows a serious commitment to action and puts the U.S. on a path to reduce its emissions around 80 percent by mid-century. This pledge is grounded in what is achievable under existing U.S. law. However, we should not underestimate the potential of innovation and technology to bring down costs and make it easier to meet–or even exceed–the proposed targets. 

“China’s pledge to increase non-fossil fuel energy and peak emissions around 2030 is a major development—and reflects a shift in its position from just a few years ago. But it will be very important to see at what level and what year their emissions peak. Analysis shows that China’s emissions should peak before 2030 to limit the worst consequences of climate change.” 

0950 – What does this mean for global energy markets? RTCC’s news editor Megan Darby will be reporting from the launch of the International Energy Agency’s 2014 World Energy Outlook in London. Does this signal the inexorable decline of coal? More on that after 10am. Follow Megan on twitter @rtcc_megan

0945 – UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has also added her voice to praise for the deal, saying it should set the tone for the next set of UN talks, that start in Lima this December.

“These two crucial countries have today announced important pathways towards a better and more secure future for human-kind. Allied to the European Union’s recent announcement, this signals in an increasingly positive way a determination towards addressing the climate change challenge from a growing number of key economies”.

More on her twitter account – here

0940 – US secretary of state John Kerry has published an op-ed in the New York Times, explaining how the two countries managed to come to an agreement over the goals – and at the same time keeping the contents secret. It’s worth a read:

This is also a milestone in the United States-China relationship, the outcome of a concerted effort that began last year in Beijing, when State Councilor Yang Jiechi and I started the United States-China Climate Change Working Group. It was an effort inspired not just by our shared concern about the impact of climate change, but by our belief that the world’s largest economies, energy consumers and carbon emitters have a responsibility to lead.

0930 – The US and China have agreed on a set of goals to tackle climate change, after a meeting between presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in Beijing. The US plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2025, while China will aim to peak emissions around 2030.

The world’s largest two economies, which are responsible for 40% of the world’s emissions, will also cooperate on a range of initiatives to develop low carbon technology.

We will be bringing you the details of the deal and reaction from around the world.

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