President Obama’s recent announcement that the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases - the US and China - had come to a ‘historic agreement’, should surely be cause for celebration in a world threatened by global warming on a major scale. However, it has received a mixed reception. Why? The deal is non-binding: a bilateral agreement based upon successive promises - “you do this, we’ll do that” – and if the US does not deliver on any actions to reduce emissions, then the Chinese would have no international legal obligation to do so. Some critics have understandably viewed the deal, therefore, as ‘meaningless’, but others are more optimistic. As multilateral climate change negotiations in Paris fast appear on the horizon, and the EU has agreed a set of targets for 2030, it could be argued that the onus is now on other countries to follow suit and work towards a ‘relevant and meaningful’ multilateral climate change agreement. If that happens, then Obama’s achievement of getting China to come closer to the bargaining table could very well be perceived as ‘historic’, or at the least, a ‘smart move’. [Tweet "Xi Jinping agreed to shift at least 20% of Chinese energy production to non-fossil fuels"]What does the deal offer? The New York Times reported that officials from the two superpowers had secretly worked, for nine months, to ‘give birth to the deal’, under which Obama declared that the US would cut its emissions by 26-28% by 2025, compared to the 2005 levels. This would more than double the rate of reduction previously targeted for 2020. In return, the Chinese leader, [...]
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