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U.S. and China reach new starting point
01:55 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Under the deal, the U.S. will cut carbon emissions by more than 25% by 2025

China is aiming to get 20% of its energy from renewable resources by 2030

Obama: U.S. and China have responsibility to lead effort against climate change

Sen. Mitch McConnell says the plan will hurt the U.S. economy

Beijing CNN  — 

In a historic climate change deal, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.

Under the agreement, the United States would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26% to 28% before 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20% of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

“As the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change,” Obama said Wednesday in a joint news conference with Xi.

The announcement marks the first time China has agreed to peak its carbon emissions, according to the White House. Xi is calling for “an energy revolution” that would include broad economic reforms addressing air pollution.

Obama, who was in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, said he hopes the deal will spur other nations to tackle climate change.

“We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious – all countries, developing and developed – to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year,” Obama said.

Xi said both sides were committed to working toward the goals before the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris next year.

Colorful summit ends with rare news conference

No more excuses

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions said the joint announcement is “an extremely hopeful sign” and will help get other countries on board.

“For too long it’s been too easy for both the United States and China to hide behind one another,” said the center’s president, Bob Perciasepe.

“People on both sides pointed to weak action abroad to delay action at home. This announcement hopefully puts those excuses behind us. We’ll only avert the worst risks of climate change by acting together.”

The announcement could put climate change back on the G20 agenda, said researcher David Holmes of Monash University in Australia.

“The announcement may mean climate will have to be higher on the G20 agenda despite host nation Australia trying to keep it off altogether,” Holmes said.

“As an economic meeting, it cannot afford to ignore the restructuring of energy markets and productive capacity that will be needed to accommodate these very ambitious cuts.”

The goals laid out by Obama and Xi were not as ambitious as some hoped, said Lo Sze Ping, CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Beijing.

But “what’s important is that both these two large emitters are taking the responsibility to act and work together to resolve the problem, not the numbers or targets themselves,” he said.

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