Earth Day Network

The US and China Set to Join Global Climate Deal

The Paris Agreement could move forward one giant step with the world’s largest carbon emitters on board

Over the weekend, President Obama and China’s President Xi will meet in Beijing to formally join last year’s Paris Agreement. This global agreement aims to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. Nations are expected to submit ambitious national targets every five years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris Agreement will enter into force after at least 55 Parties to the Convention (nations) have a total of 55 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction. Currently, only 24 states have ratified, or are in the process of ratifying, the Paris Agreement. Their contributions only account for less that 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions. If the US and China formalize their agreement this weekend, 39% of greenhouse gas emissions will be accounted for. The world’s largest carbon emitters, together they account for 38% of global greenhouse gas pollution.

Some climate deniers are dismissing the Paris Agreement as an empty promise and insist that Obama’s move to ratify the Paris Agreement as an executive agreement is unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Obama and Xi hope to come to an agreement before the G20 meeting on September 4th and 5th.

This is a big move for climate. Getting China and the US on board will put pressure on other nations to commit to the Paris Agreement and reinforce the Obama administration’s legacy on climate activism. It also reaffirms Obama’s commitment to build strong ties with China. In 2014, Obama and Xi together pledged to reduce carbon emissions over the next two decades. The two leaders have found common ground on limiting heat-trapping hydrofluorocarbons, investment in low-carbon technology, and tracking fossil fuel subsidies in the past.

Thirty-four other nations are expected to ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of the year. This would bring the Paris Agreement into effect with 58 nations covering a projected 59 percent of emissions.

Check out this great graphic by Climate Analytics to get a better understanding of the numbers.