China, Brazil, and the U.S. announce climate and clean energy goals

In a jam packed but complex day for international climate action, Brazil, the United States, and China — three of the world’s top 10 greenhouse gas emitters — all announced new goals on June 30, 2015. The commitments came in different forms and units, ranging from forest hectares to renewable energy gigawatts — but collectively appeared to represent a new and major step forward towards addressing climate change and cleaning global energy systems.

President Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, leaders of the western hemisphere’s two most populous countries, released a statement pledging to pursue strong climate change action and cut their emissions. That included an ambitious joint goal for each country to get 20 percent of their electricity by the year 2030 from renewable sources — not including hydropower. In addition, Brazil pledged to restore 12 million hectares of its forests by 2030 (equivalent to 120,000 square kilometers), even as it pursues “policies aimed at eliminating illegal deforestation.”

The news came even as China extended and solidified the commitments made last November by releasing its own intended emissions reduction target in anticipation of the U.N.’s late 2015 climate meeting in Paris. The world’s largest emitter pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 60 to 65 percent by the year 2030, building on a prior agreement with the U.S. to peak its emissions and start bringing them down by 2030.

In 2009, China had set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2029. Those emissions are already down 33.8 percent, China said.

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