LOS ANGELES — Officials from the United States and China — the world’s top two sources of greenhouse gas — began a two-day summit in Los Angeles Sept. 15 to discuss strategies for fighting climate change in their respective countries.
Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other U.S. city and state officials joined their Chinese counterparts during the White House-organized “U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit” to talk about reducing carbon emissions in urban planning, transportation, power plants, buildings and other areas.
Brown delivered the opening keynote speech, with Biden giving closing remarks Sept. 16.
The two countries’ presidents agreed in November that the United States would work to cut emissions to 26 to 28 percent under 2005 levels by 2025, while China would cap emissions levels by 2030.
Under the expected deal, about 10 cities and provinces in China will promise to reach their peak level of greenhouse gas emissions earlier than 2030 — their country’s national target — with Beijing and Guangzhou agreeing to begin decreasing their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, or 10 years earlier.
White House officials said Sept. 14 that the cities taking part in this deal are responsible for about a quarter of the carbon emissions in China’s urban areas, which means they release about 1.2 gigatons of carbon emissions — the equivalent of emissions released in Japan or Brazil.
The agreement is also expected to include promises by the Chinese cities to regularly report greenhouse gas emissions and draw up climate action plans. The U.S. parties in the agreement are expected to stick to already released goals and time lines.
Los Angeles has a goal of cutting emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2025, 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Brown also proposed earlier this year that by 2050, California should have cut carbon emissions by between 80 to 90 percent below 1990 levels.
A White House senior advisor said that while the previous year was centered around setting reduction targets for the two countries, the Los Angeles summit will initiate a conversation among cities, states, counties, provinces and eventually national leaders on specific steps and collaborative efforts to achieve those goals.
“The commitment that the Chinese and the American cities are taking as a part of the summit are a very important component of our broader efforts by our two countries to deepen climate cooperation and to show that the two largest emitters in the world are taking seriously our obligations to meet our ambitious goals that we set out last year,” Obama senior adviser Brian Deese said during a media conference call Sept. 14.
Xi, who will travel to Washington, D.C., next week, is expected to discuss climate change and other pressing state issues with Obama during the visit.
Climate change will likely also be a topic when Obama meets with Pope Francis, who will be touring the U.S., starting with a stop in Washington, D.C., next week.
The discussions by the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gas around climate change are taking place ahead of the United Nation’s December climate conference in Paris, when countries from around the world will meet to consider setting deeper and more binding greenhouse gas reduction targets.