The US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change and Clean Energy Cooperation: What's the Big Deal?

The latest Climate Council report unpacks why the recent US-China climate deal is significant for the world.



1. Momentum on climate change has been building through 2014 with the large global powers, China and the US, leading the way.

  • The world’s largest economies – China, the US and the European Union (EU) - have recently announced ambitious targets for reducing emissions post-2020, including flexibility to increase their commitments.
  • The seriousness of the US-China announcement is reflected in the substantive actions each country has already taken, for instance, the Chinese emissions trading scheme covering 250,000,000 people and US coal regulations
  • The Global Climate Fund has now received commitments from the US, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the UK and a number of other nations.

2. The recent US-China announcement has put significant economic and geopolitical pressure on Australia to up its game on climate change.

  • The US-China deal coming immediately before the G20 exposed Australia’s increasingly isolated approach to climate change and energy policy. Australia’s emission reduction target lags behind its allies and major trading partners.
  • The US and China are major drivers of the global economy and the announcement will have a significant impact on economic decisions worldwide. It is estimated that this announcement could result in a $4.5 trillion loss in revenue for the fossil fuel industry over the next 15 years. China’s “energy revolution” will install more low emissions energy than its entire existing coal fleet that is likely to drive further cost reductions in renewable energy.
  • Australia will be under weighty international pressure to increase its domestic action to tackle climate change.

3. 2015 is a critical year for global action on climate change as the world builds to the Paris climate negotiations.

  • The timing of the US-China climate announcement is important because it comes well before the UN climate summit in Paris next year and with significant time for other major polluters and economies to state their post-2020 emissions reduction targets.