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US and China unveil ‘historic' greenhouse gas emissions pledge

China and the US have revealed new pledges on greenhouse gas emissions, as the leaders of the two countries met for talks in Beijing, the BBC has reported.

US President Barack Obama said the move was “historic”, as he set a goal of reducing US levels between 26% and 28% by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. China did not set a specific target, but said emissions would peak by 2030.

The two leaders also agreed to reduce the possibility of military accidents in the air and sea.

The news came during a state visit by Mr Obama to Beijing following a major Asian regional summit.

It is the first time China, the world’s biggest polluter, has set an approximate date for emissions to peak.

Together, the two nations produce around 45% of the world’s carbon dioxide.

The unexpected announcement is a bid to boost efforts to secure a global deal on reducing emissions after 2020, to be finalised next year in Paris, and is a landmark in the battle against one of the world’s most intractable problems.

For years the US feared that if it cut emissions, energy bills would rise – and divert jobs to China. Now the relationship is switching, from “we won’t if you won’t” towards “we will if you will”.

Mr Obama’s offer is based on cuts in carbon emissions from coal power, a policy the Republicans threaten to reverse.

China’s offer to peak emissions is a long-awaited decision. Its emissions trajectory is now similar to Europe and the US, although it is further behind because it still has so many people in poverty.

The new goal from the US is up from a previous target to cut emissions by 17% by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

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