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Nov 13, 2014

The United States and China's Joint Climate Policy Announcement—What It Means


Yesterday the United States and the People’s Republic of China reached an historic agreement in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impending consequences of climate change through commitments by President Obama and President Xi.

The U.S. announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26–28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, with a commitment to a “best effort” to realize 28 percent.  Achieving those targets will require doubling annual emission reduction rates from a current 1.2 percent through 2020 to 2.3–2.8 percent from 2020 to 2025. This will set the course for the U.S. to realize an 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050.

For its part, China has committed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030, and possibly sooner, capping the emissions growth of the world’s largest emitter. This announcement was the first of its kind for China, which has to-date shied from international commitments. To realize this target, President Xi also announced that zero-emissions, non-fossil energy sources (i.e., nuclear and renewables) would represent 20 percent of China’s supply mix by 2030. (In 2011, zero-emission sources represented less than 9 percent of China’s total energy consumption.)


As the world’s two top emitters of carbon—jointly responsible for approximately 43 percent of global energy-related emissions—leadership and cooperation from both nations is critical to charting a path the rest of the world can follow. Neither China nor the U.S. can independently initiate the necessary change at the scale required; both countries need to act jointly and decisively. President Obama echoed this sentiment earlier in the week, stating: “When the U.S. and China are able to work together effectively, the whole world benefits.”

The joint announcements set a powerful precedent for other countries to emulate, and could foster ambitious international action in the near term. Many have their eye on international climate negotiations in Paris next year, where the U.S. and China’s bilateral cooperation could lay necessary groundwork for a potential future international climate treaty.


These synchronized commitments represent a decisive moment in the history of global and national-level climate action, but not a panacea.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that warming must be held beneath two degrees Celsius to avoid the most catastrophic effects of a rapidly changing climate. Related analysis suggests that we must therefore hold our carbon budget (the cumulative amount of emissions generated) to roughly 500 billion tons from now to 2050 to achieve this goal. So what will this agreement mean relative to our collective carbon budget?

Lynn Price, leader of the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explains the reductions related to Chinese emission trends: “When we compare China’s 2030 target to the results of a number of recent or ongoing studies of China’s energy and emissions pathways to 2050, this [2030] appears to be a relatively ambitious date to achieve a CO2 emissions peak and implies a meaningful effort beyond business as usual. An important consideration, though, is the level of CO2 emissions when the peak occurs, which was not included in China’s announcement. Current studies show a range of 12 to 15 GtCO2 (billion tons CO2) between 2038 and 2040 in the baseline scenarios and a range of 10 to 11 GtCO2 between 2025 and 2030 in the ambitious scenarios.”

So while the absolute magnitude of the peak is unclear, pulling it forward has an undeniable benefit of dissipating some of the momentum in fossil asset development, thereby driving down total emissions through both timing and magnitude effects.

Factoring these numbers alongside similar analysis for the United States suggests that the combined agreement could result in as much as a 100-billion-ton reduction through 2050 between the two countries against business as usual. This is undeniable progress. However, it belies the fact that together the two countries will likely emit more than the global budget themselves even with this new commitment. And what carbon budget does that leave for the remaining 75 percent of the global population?

It is clear that yesterday’s agreement must be a momentum-builder toward transforming our global energy economy, not an end goal, if we are to effectively rise to the climate challenge.


China’s announcement sets significant targets against what studies show as the current trajectory or “business as usual” scenario for the country. But while the target of a 20 percent non-fossil energy share by 2030 is a good start, it will require additional supportive measures to ensure that carbon emissions peak at a manageable level.

For example, demand-side resources, omitted from the recent announcements, will need to play a substantial role in realizing both countries’ targets. Energy efficiency will need to continue to contribute towards a deeply decarbonized future. By some accounts, China has already built the equivalent of a virtual Three Gorges Dam through the energy saved by national standards for just its efficient refrigerators and air conditioners. Such efficiency measures, expanded across other areas of the economy, can help China and the U.S. meet and beat their 2030 targets.

In addition, beyond national-level government targets and supportive policies and standards, a need exists for nimble, fast-scaling, market-based solutions to play a significant role mobilizing capital towards a global clean energy economy. The dynamism of business can rapidly mobilize—and is already mobilizing—against this challenge. Annual global investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is already at ~$300 billion and ~$250 billion, respectively, driven largely by business.


In partnership with China’s Energy Research Institute, Energy Foundation China, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Institute is 18 months into a 24-month study called Reinventing Fire: China. The project is a pan-Pacific cooperative research effort to reimagine China’s future energy system as one that is clean, connected, distributed, and secure. Reinventing Fire: China is a pathway designed to enhance energy and environmental security without compromising economic growth. The initiative’s analysis aims to measure the economic, social, and environmental benefits of rapidly deploying renewables and energy efficiency technologies in China. To do so, it focuses on an economy-wide analysis of the four energy-producing and -consuming sectors of the economy: buildings, industry, transportation, and electricity. While the analysis is still being refined, the project team believes China might be able to more than double its 2030 target of 20 percent non-fossil supply economically by 2050.

In addition to the two officially sanctioned cooperative efforts between the U.S. and China—the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center and Climate Change Working Group— Reinventing Fire: China is contributing technical analysis, policy frameworks, and market strategies designed to support the broadest possible adoption of energy efficiency and renewables in China through 2050.

China and the U.S. have committed to ambitious and important climate goals this week, representing a truly watershed moment. President Xi indicated his commitment to the bilateral agreement, acknowledging these targets as critical first steps, stating: “A pool begins with many drops of water.”

While the goals are clear and significant, much remains to be clarified as to how the they will be realized. The exciting and challenging work lies just ahead. It is often said that with great power comes great responsibility, and the announcements made this week by President Xi and President Obama signal that China and the U.S. take that responsibility very seriously. Ongoing pan-Pacific collaboration will prove vital to realizing the goals outlined this week by the world’s two most powerful heads of state.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


Showing 1-3 of 3 comments

November 14, 2014

I think the invisible wall is best represented in the words 'economic progress".
Since present day economics relies totally on consumption without regard to waste or utility or even logic, a massive amount of moral suasion must be brought to near upon change ... this can only be accomplished by 7.1 billion human beings.
However even as I write the socioeconomic systems are fighting tooth and nail to continue to separate humanity into manageable and manipulative chunks. The Internet being the most recent target for fragmentation in the headlines.
The internet is critical because it represents the unification of humans and the ability to use collective wisdom rather than conventional wisdom to influence change.

November 17, 2014

I am sending you some info about a new technology that neutralizes pollution. Please see below.
I hope you can publish this short article for your readers.
Please accept my apologies of you have received the same information from other people.


Hydro Nano Gas could be the Answer for Neutralizing Carbon Fuel Emissions

Hydro Infra Technologies (HIT), a Swedish clean tech company based in Stockholm, has developed an innovative patent pending approach for neutralizing carbon fuel emissions by generating a novel gas called Hydro Nano Gas (HNG).

In spite of all the advancement happening in the energy sector, global economies are still dependent on fossil fuels as the interlinked chain of costs to completely replace the burning of fossil fuels with more clean and sustainable options is beyond the financial resources of even the richest nations.

This in turn affects the climate change scenario which has been continuously increasing as more pollution and green house gases are created from burning fossil fuels on a daily basis.

This dilemma requires a new approach with safe, cost effective and smart solutions; the solution in sight? Making any fossil fuel climate neutral – and this is exactly what HIT’s Hydro Nano Gas proposes to do.

Water contains 2 basic elements, Hydrogen and Oxygen. These 2 basic elements can be split, divided and utilized. Splitting water (H2O) is a known science. But the energy costs to perform splitting outweigh the energy created from hydrogen when the Hydrogen is split from the water molecule H2O. This is where mainstream science usually closes the book on the subject.

HIT took a different approach by postulating that it was not only possible but indefinitely sustainable to split water in an energy efficient way to extract a high yield of Hydrogen at very low cost.

The process of creating HNG involves pulsing a range of low energy frequencies in a very specific sequence into water. The pulsing treatment effectively manipulates the molecules to line up in a certain structure which are then put through a splitting process. The result is HNG.

Being exotic as it is, HNG displays some very different properties from normal hydrogen. For instance: HNG instantly neutralizes carbon fuel pollution emissions; HNG can be pressurized up to 2 bars; HNG combusts at a rate of 9000 meters per second while normal Hydrogen combusts at a rate 600 meters per second; oxygen values actually increase when HNG is inserted into a diesel flame; and finally, HNG acts like a vortex on fossil fuel emissions causing the flame to be pulled into the centre thus concentrating the heat and combustion properties.

Injecting HNG into a combustion chamber produces several effects that increase the burn efficiency of the fuels. HNG gasification effectively burns unburned residue/cluster while completing the burn process quicker. The long term impact of using HNG in the burning of fossil fuels can provide the balanced solution for the on going economic-climate change debate.

The new technology is also found to be effective in the treatment of polluted water; when HNG Nano bubbles are injected into polluted water, a microbe chain reaction is initiated that rapidly triggers and boosts the waters’ own organic repairing process. While further testing and validation are required, the discovery creates new potential in providing solutions to critical areas of global pollution.

HIT is also developing a Smoke Eliminator for all sorts of plants and facilities. The process reduces the need for smoke analysis as it results in a clean wet scrubber technology where CO2 becomes a clean by-product ready to be reused.

Further, a miniaturized version of the standard HNG reactor will help HIT achieve its goal of gassing 9,000 cubic meters of smoke volume per second. Using Nano technology, the reactor will see the beginning of a new technology phase for each HNG application, reports HIT.

The HIT innovation story begins in the 1980’s when a small team of dedicated technicians, researchers and engineers came together to innovate real world solutions based on the theoretical research conducted by Nobel prize winner Professor Yuan Tse Lee. The goal was clear - to ‘crack’ the Hydrogen code.

In late 2012, after years of on/off research and experimentation, they finally cracked the code and HNG was born.

HIT was formed to spread their discoveries to the world as Information Technology via joint venture partners.

HIT has also selected SGS – the worlds leading testing/validation and certification company – to be its’ permanent testing-validation protocol partner, providing certification that enables HIT to expand into global markets.

Read more about HIT: www.hydroinfra.com

Stephen Muires,
Stockholm, Sweden

November 17, 2014

I just heard John Podesta, who helped negotiate the China deal tell Charlie Rose he expects nuclear power to be a significant part of China's "clean, fossil-free energy future" to help meet carbon reductions. This is the first I have heard of a major nuclear component; is there?

Fossil fuels are used at all stages in the mining, transport and refinement of nuclear fuel, and its carbon footprint is quite large. Then there is the waste problem, and operational risks. What gives?

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