Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping review the troops during an arrival ceremony Friday.

Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping review the troops during an arrival ceremony Friday. Steve Helber/AP

Obama, Chinese Leader Seek Smoother Road to Paris Global-Warming Deal

China is laying out plans to launch a national cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions in 2017.

On Fri­day, the U.S. and China will un­veil their “com­mon vis­ion” for the ma­jor new pact on cli­mate change that ne­go­ti­at­ors from coun­tries world­wide hope to reach in Par­is late this year, a seni­or U.S. of­fi­cial said.

China, as part of the joint an­nounce­ment, will also de­scribe plans to launch a na­tion­al cap-and-trade sys­tem for green­house-gas pol­lu­tion in 2017.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials touted the joint state­ment as a suc­cess story ahead of two days of talks between Pres­id­ent Obama and Chinese Pres­id­ent Xi Jin­ping that be­gin Thursday night. The bi­lat­er­al talks ar­rive at a time of ten­sion on oth­er is­sues, in­clud­ing Chinese cur­rency prac­tices and sus­pec­ted com­puter hack­ing.

“To­mor­row we will re­lease a far-reach­ing joint pres­id­en­tial state­ment on cli­mate change. This is a state­ment that has been worked closely on and ne­go­ti­ated closely by our re­spect­ive teams over the course of many months,” a seni­or of­fi­cial told re­port­ers Thursday ahead of the U.S.-China sum­mit.

Of­fi­cials said a key ele­ment of the agree­ment will be the align­ment of U.S. and Chinese stances on ma­jor is­sues that will be un­der ne­go­ti­ation at the wider United Na­tions talks in Par­is in Decem­ber.

“We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do to get to a suc­cess­ful agree­ment in Par­is. But this doc­u­ment and this state­ment re­flects what our two coun­tries thought we could put for­ward to be as con­struct­ive as pos­sible in mov­ing that pro­cess to a suc­cess­ful res­ol­u­tion,” an of­fi­cial said.

The joint state­ment will ad­dress is­sues in­clud­ing: de­vel­op­ment of strategies for trans­ition­ing to low-car­bon eco­nom­ies by mid-cen­tury, which means look­ing bey­ond the near­er-term emis­sions pledges the two na­tions have already made for the 2025-2030 time frame; “trans­par­ency” to en­sure na­tions are im­ple­ment­ing the car­bon-emis­sions pledges that are part of the U.N. pro­cess; joint prin­ciples on ad­apt­a­tion to cli­mate change and as­sist­ance to poor na­tions, and more.

The latest joint ini­ti­at­ive comes after China and the U.S.—the world’s No. 1 and 2 green­house-gas pol­luters—reached a ma­jor deal on emis­sions in late 2014.

Last Novem­ber, China agreed to a peak in its soar­ing car­bon emis­sions in 2030 at the latest, and also vowed to sharply in­crease use of car­bon-free fuels to reach 20 per­cent of its en­ergy con­sump­tion by 2030. The U.S. pledged to cut green­house-gas emis­sions by 26-28 per­cent be­low 2005 levels by 2025, build­ing on the ex­ist­ing tar­get of a 17 per­cent cut by 2020.

On Fri­day, the na­tions are slated to an­nounce a suite of meas­ures that build on that pledge, of­fi­cials said. A big one will be what U.S. of­fi­cials called a first-time con­firm­a­tion from China that it will launch a na­tion­al emis­sions-trad­ing sys­tem in 2017, and the spe­cif­ics of the ini­ti­at­ive.

“China will de­tail some of the com­pon­ents of that strategy, in­clud­ing the num­ber of sec­tors that the [emis­sions-trad­ing sys­tem] will cov­er, in­clud­ing power gen­er­a­tion, iron and steel, chem­ic­als, build­ing ma­ter­i­als, in­clud­ing ce­ment, pa­per­mak­ing and non­fer­rous metals. These sec­tors to­geth­er pro­duce a sub­stan­tial per­cent­age of China’s cli­mate pol­lu­tion, and this re­flects a sig­ni­fic­ant policy move that the Chinese are an­noun­cing they will take,” a U.S. of­fi­cial said.

Oth­er ef­forts ad­dress the two na­tions’ plans for reg­u­la­tions to cut emis­sions from heavy-duty vehicles (think big trucks). The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency and the Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment are already work­ing on car­bon-pol­lu­tion and mileage stand­ards, but an of­fi­cial said the joint ef­fort will “en­cour­age great­er emis­sions re­duc­tions earli­er” and “send a sig­nal to the glob­al in­dustry that our two coun­tries are har­mon­iz­ing those reg­u­la­tions.”

The wide-ran­ging state­ment will also have pro­vi­sions on ap­pli­ance-ef­fi­ciency stand­ards, ways that China will in­crease the pri­or­it­iz­a­tion of green­er power sources in its elec­tric­al grid, fin­ance for glob­al ef­forts to com­bat cli­mate change, and more.

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