President Barack Obama has taken two major steps in the battle against climate change: negotiated an emissions-reduction agreement in secret with China, and pledged to donate $3 billion to assist lower-income countries in dealing with new environmental circumstances.
Obama “is expected to make the announcement at a summit meeting of the Group of 20 industrial powers this weekend in Brisbane, Australia,” The New York Times reported on November 14. The money will go to the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations creation designed to provide financial assistance for climate change adaptation and mitigation in lower-income countries. The idea, sources told the newspaper is that anything benefitting these nations will benefit the planet as a whole.
Likewise part of the goal with the China agreement is to inspire the rest of the world to follow suit and make a commitment at a climate meeting being held in Berlin on November 20. At a December meeting in Lima, work will begin on climate accords to be discussed and finalized in Paris in 2015. A daylong climate summit convened by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in September paved the way for the latter two meetings.
Under the agreement between the two largest emitters in the world, which was hammered out over nine months, Obama and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to cut emissions and reduce fossil-fuel consumption, respectively, according to a joint statement issued by the White House on November 12. The U.S. pledged “to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025,” the statement said, “and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28 percent.”
China, for its part, “intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030,” the joint statement said. “Both sides intend to continue to work to increase ambition over time.”
Part of their goal was to “inject momentum into the global climate negotiations and inspire other countries to join in coming forward with ambitious actions as soon as possible, preferably by the first quarter of 2015,” the countries said in their statement. “The two Presidents resolved to work closely together over the next year to address major impediments to reaching a successful global climate agreement in Paris.”
Among the other components of the deal are putting more effort into researching and developing clean-energy measures, carbon capture capture and storage, and promoting trade in “green goods,” among other initiatives.
“This continues the momentum and really builds on what they did with the announcement in China,” said climate-negotiation expert David Waskow of the Washington DC research organization the World Resources Institute, to The New York Times. “I think we’ll now see a broader set of actors who are willing to make contributions.”