Progress made at climate discussion

China and the United States will reduce carbon emissions.

The 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting closed on Nov. 12 with a surprise announcement from China and the United States — presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping agreed on new carbon emission reduction goals.

This is a landmark event for the world’s two biggest polluters, which together account for nearly half of all the emissions released worldwide. It also marks the first time China has made a serious commitment to reducing its carbon emissions.

Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. will decrease its current rate of emission so that by 2025 it will emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon than in 2005.

By 2030, China intends to stop allowing its carbon emissions to rise and will generate 20 percent of its power from clean energy sources.

Environmentalists and researchers have said the plan does not go far enough and that both nations are capable of more significant reductions by 2030.

Moreover, leading Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and James Inhofe of Oklahoma complained about the agreement, with McConnell saying it will lead to fewer jobs in the U.S. and Inhofe claiming it allows China to delay any action.

We see this deal as an important first step to involve China, the world’s largest carbon polluter, in international climate change mitigation efforts. With a new round of climate talks set for 2015, the commitment of China and the U.S. may spark bigger changes within other countries to lower their own carbon emissions.