Special Topics in Environmental Management

United States and China Join Paris Agreement

On September 3, 2016, the United States and China, the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs), formally joined the December 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce emissions and take other actions to stem the advance of climate change. The two nations promptly urged other nations to follow their lead. The agreement enters into force once 55 nations representing 55 percent of global GHG emissions deposit their official instruments (documents signed by the Head of State that declare that the Government has considered the agreement) with the Secretary General to join. Together, the United States and China account for nearly 40 percent of global GHG emissions.

The joint U.S.-China action is probably the most significant of a series of commitments the two nations have taken together going back to 2013 when President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping announced their support of an international agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent GHG. (A global HFC phaseout will be the main topic in October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda, during the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.) Also, in November 2014, the two leaders got together to unveil the respective climate goals of their nations. In September 2015, the countries released a road map for Paris, which, according to the United States, planted the seeds for the Paris Agreement.

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