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Are emissions commitments by the U.S. and China big enough?

As we get closer to the United Nation's conference on climate change in Copenhagen and nations begin setting their agendas, are their goals realistic? Last week, the U.S. and China each announced their emissions target goals. Are they big enough?

Posted by Washington Post Editor on November 30, 2009 10:17 AM

Showing up is only the start

U.S. leadership has always been critical for success at Copenhagen. President Obama's announcement of new emissions targets is welcome and demonstrates how far the U.S. has come over the past year.

Posted by Nigel Sheinwald, on December 4, 2009 10:51 AM

Of course not, but it's not that simple...

At face value, neither position will do much to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations, or affect the rate at which they are increasing. The science communities in both countries as well as the policy makers in the U.S. and China know that as well as anyone else.

Posted by David F. Hales, on December 3, 2009 8:58 PM

The right move

Not only are these announcements critical for settling one of the major issues of the Copenhagen talks -- emissions reduction targets -- but they also complete the circle of all major countries stepping forward to announce their climate actions for the post-2012 commitment period.

Posted by Ned Helme, on December 2, 2009 4:57 PM

Yes, no, maybe so

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by the negotiators in Copenhagen will be how to weave together this veritable Babel of approaches into whole cloth in a way that can then be transitioned to binding commitments.

Posted by Donald F. Boesch, on December 2, 2009 4:52 PM

China's promise does not withstand scrutiny

China has taken what is universally expected to happen and dressed it up as a new and ambitious policy decision.

Posted by Bjorn Lomborg, on December 2, 2009 9:54 AM

Reality check on China

It is time for a reality check on China before the American delegation puts its own proposal on the table in Denmark. The reality is that China's carbon dioxide emissions will continue heading sharply upward.

Posted by Ben Lieberman, on December 1, 2009 2:00 PM

Um, no

Big enough to what? Take some heat off them for blocking progress?

Posted by Bill McKibben, on December 1, 2009 10:29 AM

It's all about priorities

A balanced economic, energy and climate policy based on carbon intensity improvements would more likely be successful than one built on arbitrary reductions that can only be achieved by inflicting more harm on the economy. The Chinese have their priorities right. Congress and President Obama do not.

Posted by William O'Keefe, on December 1, 2009 10:22 AM

Something to build on

The promises of the U.S. and China may seem insufficient today - but they give us something to build on, and no reason to give up hope.

Posted by Lars G. Josefsson, on December 1, 2009 7:31 AM


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