By Evelyn Neumayr-Oracle on Oct 08, 2015
By Elena Avesani, Principal Strategy Manager, Oracle
September 2015 marked two remarkable events in the fight against global warming. Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24, the first time the head of the Roman Catholic Church has addressed the body, and called on Congress to protect our environment, laying out the argument presented in his June 2015 “Laudato Si” Encyclical Letter for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change.
The following day, President Obama and President Xi reaffirmed sweeping climate commitments to combat global warming following the U.S. – China joint announcement on climate change of November 12, 2014, which marked the first time China has agreed to peak its CO2 emissions. The actions announced are also meant to inject momentum into the global climate negotiations on the road to reaching a successful new climate agreement next year in Paris.
China's commitments include the creation of the world’s largest carbon market through a national emission trading system to be launched by 2017, the opening of the electricity market to prioritize renewable power generation and fossil fuel power generation of higher efficiency and lower emission levels, the implementation of green building standards by 2020 for 50 percent of all new urban development, and new fuel efficiency standard for medium and heavy-duty trucks. Notably, the new carbon market will cover approximately 60 percent of China’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, which were roughly 10 billion metric tons in 2014.
The United States’ equally ambitious commitments include strengthening the Clean Power Plan announced in August 2015, improving fuel efficiency standards of trucks and implementing them by 2019, finalizing 20 efficiency standards for appliances and equipment and 2 new standards to limit methane emissions from landfills by the end of 2016. These actions are critical, as the effects of methane on climate change are 25 times greater than those of CO2 over a 100-year period.
Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it will prohibit some of the most damaging forms of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from several end uses in 2016. China has matched this commitment with a plan to reduce HFCs that includes steps to reduce HFC-23 emissions before 2020.
The countries have also committed to extending research collaboration efforts on energy and water issues, and strengthening bilateral collaboration at the national and city levels to help accelerate clean energy solutions. The two countries have also pledged $6 billion in additional funding to support similar low-carbon solutions in the developing world.
RMI Outlet: “Today's U.S.-China Announcement is the Most Significant Milestone to Date for Battling Global Climate Change