This is an ambitious goal but it is an achievable goal. The world’s number one and number two carbon polluters are now cooperating but the question is implementation. What the climate deal and a wider global climate agreement could look like in power plants and automobiles worldwide.
Now, on the New York Times Minute. The agreement centers around emissions, especially coal, which has been a concern for years. I have been promoting and boosting clean energy. I think it’s absolutely critical for our future.
But remember that coal powers 39 percent of the electricity in the U.S. and 80 percent in China. An open question is whether China will even let the world track their carbon output. Still, the notoriously bad air in Beijing might provide a big reason for a switch.
The agreement, if it holds, will also impact how the world drives. Watch for both countries to increase their focus on low-emission vehicles like the all-electric Nissan Leaf and hybrids like the Toyota Prius. Cars would be a way for both countries to cut emissions quickly. Get them charged with some extra mileage on the way home.
But there are still plenty of outstanding questions. To meet the goals, the U.S. would need to double the previously targeted pace of reduction. That wouldn’t necessarily require new laws but a Republican congress isn’t expected to help.
The goals are also set for 2025, long after Mr. Obama leaves office. In China, the deal assumes emissions will peak due to a massive growth in clean energy. President Xi Jinping is promising that even as China continues to grow, 20 percent of China’s energy will be clean by 2030. That would be more energy than all of the Chinese coal-fired power plants that currently exist.
Still, officials are hoping that November’s agreement will mean that other countries fall in line towards their larger goal: a global climate agreement in 2015.