US, China Pledge Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cuts

by | Jul 11, 2013

Obama Xi Jinping SummitThe US and China yesterday agreed on five initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions including reducing vehicle pollution, increasing carbon capture projects and improving buildings’ energy efficiency.

The agreement is nonbinding and does not set specific emissions reduction targets.

The US-China Working Group on Climate Change, established in April during Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China, will develop implementation plans for all five initiatives by October.

According to the US State Department, heavy-duty vehicles are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in the US and account for more than half of transportation fuel consumed in China. Because light-duty vehicles also burn fuel and pollute the air, this initiative will focus on policies to cut CO2 and black carbon emissions in both heavy- and light-duty vehicles through improved heavy-duty fuel efficiency standards, cleaner fuels and vehicle emissions control technologies, and more efficient, clean freight.

The US and China account for more than 40 percent of global coal consumption, the State Department says. The second initiative — increasing carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) — seeks to cut emissions from coal combustion by employing CCUS technologies in the electric power and industrial sectors. Both countries agree to implement several large-scale CCUS projects.

The US says it will work with China to build capacity for GHG data collection and management to help track progress and implement policies to curb emissions.

Additionally, the US and China say they will focus on making buildings more energy efficient through new financing models. Buildings account for more than 30 percent of energy use in both countries.

Finally, under the fifth initiative, both countries say they will promote smart grids. This includes developing technology, deploying renewable energy and improving demand management. The power sector accounts for more than one third of US and Chinese carbon emissions, the State Department says.

The Working Group will develop other initiatives to cut emissions in both countries and complement US actions, including President Barack Obama’s climate plan, announced late last month.

Yesterday’s action follows an agreement last month between President Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (pictured) to find ways to cut the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a gaseous compound used in refrigerants and insulating foams and a major source of greenhouse gases.


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