For the first time ever, China has agreed to limit its greenhouse-gas emissions, under a deal announced this morning between Chinese president Xi Jinping and U.S. president Barack Obama.

In exchange, the U.S. set a goal of cutting its own carbon emissions more deeply by 2025, building on a previously announced goal for reductions by 2020.

The news came late last night in articles by The Washington Post and other outlets.

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China has agreed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier, and even more challenging, to generate 20 percent of its electric power from renewable resources that year.

At present, China builds one new coal-fired electricity plant almost every week.

Smog in Hong Kong [Image by Flickr user inkelv1122]

Smog in Hong Kong [Image by Flickr user inkelv1122]

Together, the U.S. and China produce 45 percent of the world's carbon emissions.

To meet its goal,China will have to create up to 1,000 gigawatts of generating capacity from nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission sources by 2030.

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That amount approaches the total generating capacity today of the United States, and exceeds to total capacity of all coal plants operating in China today.

The new U.S. goal, meanwhile, is to reduce its carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Its current goal is to cut such emissions by 17 percent in 2020 over those 2005 levels.

Beijing Smog by Flickr user michaelhenley

Beijing Smog by Flickr user michaelhenley

The new target means the U.S. must more than double its annual reduction in carbon output from 2020 through 2025, cutting emissions by 2.3 to 2.8 percent each year--versus a pace of just 1.2 percent from 2005 through 2020.

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The joint announcement followed a meeting in Beijing between Xi and Obama this week.

The two presidents have each prioritized reducing carbon emissions, though in China, severe air pollution is more of a concern among the public than is climate change.

Meanwhile, the new head of the Republican-led U.S. Senate committee on the environment, James Inhofe [R-OK], has said he does not believe the accepted science of climate change.

As noted by The Washington Post, "Meeting the goals will be difficult for both countries."


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