Climate Change, Environmental Hazards, Sustainability

Presidents of U.S. and China Make Climate Change Vows

 A truck transporting coal in Beijing, China. Will a carbon cap and trade improve air quality around the world?
A truck transporting coal in Beijing, China. Will a carbon cap and trade improve air quality around the world? Photo: Han Jun Zeng | FlickrCC.

On Friday, September 25th, as part of a state visit to Washington D.C., President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China met with President Barack Obama to discuss climate change in front of a new summit in Paris this December. Both politicians have taken climate change seriously, and have committed their respective countries to doing something about the issue.

Amidst discussion about a number of other issues, Xi announced nationwide implementation of a carbon cap and trade system in China by 2017, based on a system already in place in several regions. This system would reduce emissions by setting a cap on carbon emissions, but would also allow manufactures to buy and sell the rights to produce carbon emissions.

A carbon cap and trade system would allow industries that find they don’t need to produce as many emissions to sell off their share to other industries that need to produce more, allowing for a more flexible system than simply capping how much carbon a given factory can produce. A similar plan was suggested in the United States in 2010 but failed to make it through Congress.

China is still considered a developing nation and, as such, has largely been left to produce carbon as it sees fit, while other countries, like the U.S. or Britain, face much more resistance from the United Nations.

President Obama would like to see more restrictions on developing nations, which still produce huge amounts of emissions.

China and the U.S. actually produce the most emissions of any countries in the world, but with both stepping up to reduce those emissions, climate change talks might be a little less tense this time around. In fact, President Obama stated that, if the U.S. and China can come to an agreement to limit their own emissions, it should be possible for other countries, developed or otherwise, to do the same.

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