Going green: Beijing, Washington strike landmark climate change deal

Going green: Beijing, Washington strike landmark climate change deal
The world’s top carbon polluters – China and the United States – have reached a landmark agreement on greenhouse gas emissions, with both countries pledging to curb them by about a third by 2030.

Under the agreement, which was announced by President Obama and President Xi Jinping in Beijing, the United States pledges to reduce the level of its greenhouse gas emissions – based off 2005 levels – by 26 to 28 percent by the year 2025. Ultimately, the goal for American policy makers is to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.

For its part, China has pledged to stop its emissions from rising by 2030 – the first time the country has ever promised to reach such a goal. President Xi said that in order to successfully accomplish this, 20 percent of China's energy needs will come from alternative sources by 2030, such as solar power and wind energy.

With world leaders preparing to meet in Paris in 2015 to discuss international plans to combat global warming, both the US and China hope their new deal will motivate other countries to follow suit and set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gases.

The White House said in a statement that China is embracing the “energy revolution,” which includes economic reforms and ways to deal with air pollution.

China has signed onto providing 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,” according to the statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

While the deal was hailed by the White House, serious roadblocks remain, considering that Congress will be controlled by Republicans starting in 2015. Conservatives have generally criticized attempts to combat climate change, to the point that many do not acknowledge that it exists. An unnamed official told CNN, however, that President Obama was committed to the effort.

"Congress may try to stop us, but we believe that with control of Congress changing hands we can proceed with the authority we already have,” the official said. "This is really the crusade of a narrow group of people who are politically motivated and have made this a cause celebre, but we believe we will be successful."

The announcement of the climate change deal follows several reports on agreements between the US and China around trade tariffs, military maneuvers, and easing travel visas.

As part of the trade deal, both sides agreed to get rid of $1 trillion worth of tariffs a year surrounding global sales of information and communications technology, such as GPS devices, medical equipment, and game consoles.

The move was hailed as a “breakthrough” deal that could boost bilateral trade and create more jobs. However, before the deal goes forward, the agreement will have to be approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO).