In a groundbreaking agreement, the U. S and China agreed in early November 2014 to limit greenhouse gases. The two nations – the world’s greatest polluters – committed to aggressive actions in the worldwide struggle against climate change.
The U. S., which previously pledged to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases 17% by 2020, now pledges to reduce emissions 26% – 28% by 2025, relative to 2005 levels. China, which previously refused to pledge any action in response to climate change, agreed to cap its emissions. Though China would not commit to a specific amount, it pledged that its emissions would peak by 2030 at the latest and that it would increase its use of non-fossil fuels.
The agreement was hailed by environmental activists as historic and forward-thinking, particularly coming a year prior to finalization of the global treaty on climate change due in Paris in 2015. It was also praised for countering the reluctance of developing nations such as India to effectively address climate change: the leadership of the U. S. and China in combatting climate change should encourage and compel the cooperation of other nations. The specifics of America’s and China’s agreement are expected to comprise their contributions to the finalized global treaty on climate change.
Within a day or two of the agreement, it was criticized for its increased pressure on U. S. state and business interests and its lack of specific emissions targets by China. Republicans, who previously criticized the President’s efforts against climate change because the lack of China’s cooperation would make the efforts meaningless, now criticize America’s rigorous commitment and the lack of China’s pledge to specific percentages in the near future. Furthermore, other Republicans criticize the agreement because they believe China simply cannot be trusted: whether or not China agrees to cut emissions, the nation will simply do as it wishes. The opposition pledges to block U. S. efforts to meet its stated emissions goals; however, environmentalists strongly disagree with blocking U. S. goals, as it will undermine other nations’ willingness to cooperate regarding climate change and next year’s negotiations in Paris.
Despite criticism by some of the Republican Party’s most vocal Congressmen, other Republicans are encouraged by China’s evident willingness to fight climate change and are adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the agreement.
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