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The US-China Agree to Further Climate Cuts


With Presidential Backing, Working Group Gets Fast Start

Five new joint climate initiatives, plus efforts to implement HFC agreement

Washington DC, July 11, 2013 – The U.S.-China Working Group on Climate Change, set up in April during Secretary of State John Kerry’s first visit to China, yesterday announced agreement on five new initiatives to jointly reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. Implementation plans are on a fast track, with completion scheduled for October 2013. The U.S. and China are currently the two largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollutants globally.

The new US-China initiatives are: reducing black carbon and other emissions from heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles; demonstrating carbon capture, utilization, and storage; increasing energy efficiency in buildings, where air conditioning accounts for a major part of energy use, as well as in industry and transport; strengthening capacity for collection and management of greenhouse gas data; and, collaborating on “smart” grid systems, deploying renewable and clean energy, and improving demand management.

The high-level US-China team is also working to implement the June agreement by President Obama and President Xi to phase down HFCs using the Montreal Protocol treaty, considered to be the world’s most successful environmental treaty for its success protecting the stratospheric ozone layer and the climate system.

"The US-China initiatives will produce fast mitigation from cuts to HFCs and black carbon, two climate pollutants that clear out of the atmosphere quickly and produce quick cooling.  The initiatives also will produce longer term mitigation by cutting carbon dioxide, and by pursuing carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects," said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

"The focus on carbon capture and utilization opens up opportunities for California companies like Blue Planet cement, which is capturing carbon dioxide from the smokestack and turning it into cement, the world's most widely used commodity. Utilizing carbon dioxide to make cement for our highways and buildings is smart technology and smart business. We can’t protect the climate in the long run if we don't learn how to capture and utilize carbon dioxide.”

Secretary Kerry, who attended the June Presidential summit with presidents Obama and Xi, is following through with a solid set of initiatives that will produce fast results for China, for the US, and for the world, results that Zaelke says “will lead to expanded cooperation by the world's two largest climate polluters.”

"President Obama and Secretary Kerry are moving the US back into position as a positive force in the climate battle, something we haven't seen since the Copenhagen climate summit back in 2009,” Zaelke added. “The successful climate partnership between the US and China is starting to generate the sense of urgent optimism we need to re-energize global climate policy."

A study published June 26th confirms the importance presidents Obama and Xi are placing on HFCs, showing that that phasing down these super greenhouse gases under the Montreal Protocol can avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100, a substantial part of what is needed to keep global temperature below 2°C through the end of the century.

The meeting involved high-level officials from the US and China. For the US this included secretaries of State, Energy, Treasury, Transportation, and Commerce, as well as officials from the White House, consistent with President Obama’s new attention to climate policy.


U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group Fact Sheet is here.

IGSD’s Primer on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants is here.