On Monday, President Obama’s administration unveiled a plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. The plan states that carbon dioxide emissions must be cut 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The move to cut emissions is already underway. Many companies have started to switch to natural gas facilities and enact more renewable energy programs as part of existing state regulations. According to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), carbon emissions have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012.

Yesterday, China jumped in with its own plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions. The country said it will put an absolute cap on its emissions as early as 2016.

The move has increased optimism that a global climate treaty could be back on the table between the two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world.

A Reuters report says He Jiankun, chairman of China’s Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference the total cap on emissions will be set when the next five-year plan is active in 2016.

In years past, China’s cap on emissions was set to the level of the country’s economic growth. More growth meant more emissions. This cap will be steady. But, we don’t yet know what the level of emissions will be capped at.

Jiankun notes that even with reduction in coal consumption and movement towards greener energies, China’s emissions won’t peak until 2030. Emissions are expected to top out around 11 billion tons of CO2-equivalent. That’s up from today’s number of 9.5 billion tons.

Climate change and green energy optimists hope these two plans lead to more movement at the upcoming U.N. climate change meeting in Germany. The meeting is set to begin on Wednesday and will include officials from over 190 countries. These 10 day talks could lead to a new global climate treaty later next year.

At least China and the U.S. are taking additional steps towards lower emissions. The question remains, can the two nations work together towards a meaningful climate treaty?


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