Today, the United States and China formally joined the Paris Agreement in a ceremony in Hangzhou, China. President Obama and President Xi deposited each country’s official instrument to join the agreement with United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon. Today’s announcement marks another milestone in President Obama and President Xi’s legacy of climate leadership and represents a significant step towards the Paris Agreement entering into force this year. The leaders also affirmed their commitment to work together to reach successful outcomes this year in adopting an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phasedown HFCs and on a market-based measure to reduce carbon emissions from international aviation, and announced continued bilateral climate cooperation and domestic action.
- Paris Agreement. Last December, more than 190 countries adopted the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. In order for the agreement to take effect and enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions need to formally join the Agreement. Today’s action by the United States and China to formally join is a significant step towards entry into force this year with countries representing around 40 percent of global emissions having now joined and more than 55 countries having already joined or publicly committed to work towards joining the agreement this year. In addition, both sides stated their intention to prepare and publish their respective “mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” under the Paris Agreement. The United States has previously committed to publishing its strategy this year, and today, China committed to prepare its strategy as early as possible. And the two countries also announced that they will engage in technical collaboration and consultation on their strategies.
- HFC Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. President Obama and President Xi first underscored the need to phase down the consumption and production of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which can be up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, in their meeting at Sunnylands in 2013. In their statement on March 31 this year, they called for a successful outcome in 2016 on an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of HFCs globally. Today, the United States and China are making their joint goal of a successful outcome more concrete by committing to work together to reach agreement this year on an ambitious and comprehensive HFC amendment with an early freeze date and ambitious phase down schedule, along with increased financial support to assist in implementation. An early freeze date is a critical determinant of an amendment’s ambition, including whether it can avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.
- International Aviation Emissions. In March 2016, President Obama and President Xi committed to working together to reach a successful outcome this year on a global market-based measure for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). After close bilateral engagement between the United States and China, as well as constructive multilateral negotiations among ICAO’s member States, the ICAO Assembly will consider the approval of such a measure when it meets in late September. Today, the United States and China are expressing their support for the ICAO Assembly reaching consensus on such a measure. The measure under consideration would be implemented with an initial period in which countries volunteer to join. The United States and China also announced that they expect to be early participants in the measure and volunteer to join, a clear demonstration of leadership by the two largest emitters of international aviation emissions and a signal to others to follow suit.
- Domestic Actions. As they did in the September 2015 announcement, the United States and China highlighted actions that each side is taking domestically to tackle climate change and promote the transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient economies. The United States highlighted actions including the extension of the production and investment tax credits for wind and solar, which will deploy roughly 100 gigawatts of renewable energy over the next five years, new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles, and efforts to finalize 20 additional efficiency standards for appliances and equipment by the end of the year. Likewise, China highlighted plans to reduce CO2 and energy intensity by 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively, as well as to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 15 percent by 2020. China also noted its commitment to start its national cap-and-trade program in 2017 and to promote green power dispatch to accelerate the use of renewable energy.
- Continued Bilateral Cooperation. The United States and China committed to deepen and enhance their ongoing bilateral climate cooperation, which has been a core element of climate action by the two countries and has provided the foundation for leadership in the international climate arena. The two sides plan to continue this cooperation in the years to come through a number of frameworks, including the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group, and the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC). Looking ahead the two countries look forward to the next U.S.-China Climate-Smart / Low-Carbon Cities Summit, to be held in Boston in 2017, as well as the Clean Energy Ministerial, to be held in China in 2017.