25 August 2019
Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping toast during a banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping toast during a banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters

US, China make joint pledge to cut emissions

US President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping jointly announced new targets on greenhouse emissions after intensive bilateral talks in Beijing on Wednesday.

China will aim to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, while the United States will cut total emissions by more than a quarter by 2025, Reuters reported.

Although many questions remain about enforcement and implementation, the unprecedented joint pledge throws the political weight of the world’s two biggest economies behind a new global climate pact to be negotiated in Paris next year.

It also represents the first time China has set a date for peak CO2 emissions.

US officials said the commitments, the result of months of dialogue between the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, would spur other nations to make pledges and deliver “a shot of momentum” into negotiations for a new agreement set to take effect in 2020.

The US and China have strong economic and commercial ties but have been at odds over everything from China’s pursuit of territorial claims in East and Southeast Asia to cyberspying, trade and human rights.

Obama, meeting Xi in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for their first formal talks in more than a year after a dinner meeting the previous night, said he welcomes a China that is peaceful, prosperous and stable.

On Tuesday, the two leaders spoke for five hours during and after dinner, two hours longer than scheduled, officials said.

Obama added that China and the United States have important differences, but he was encouraged by Xi’s willingness to engage constructively.

“There are important differences that we have both practically as well as our vision for our respective countries and our conduct in foreign policy,” he said.

“But what I’ve been very encouraged by is your willingness, Mr. President, to engage in constructive dialogue,” Obama added.

“Our two countries have enormous stakes in each other’s success,” Obama added. “The United States welcomes a China that is peaceful, prosperous and stable.”

Xi told Obama that China and the US should expand the areas where they can and should cooperate.

The Chinese leader underscored the two countries’ commitment to building a new type of major-country relations between them, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

“China would like to work with the United States to implement the principle of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and common prosperity and make new type of major-country relations between the two countries produce more benefits to people in the two countries and the world,” Xi said. “I will make joint efforts with President Obama.”

Despite US officials projecting low expectations for any major successes in the run-up to the trip, the two sides have managed to roll out a series of modest to fairly significant achievements over the course of the visit, on visas, trade, climate and military-to-military ties, Reuters said.

Obama also told Xi that the US would encourage elections in Hong Kong that are free and fair and reflect the will of people. But Xi said in front of reporters that what happens in Hong Kong is an internal matter for China.

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