Adoption of the Paris agreement under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP 21 in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015, is attributable in substantial part to bilateral agreements between the presidents of the People's Republic of China and the United States. This first took place when President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama met in Beijing in November 2014 just after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. The resulting U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, in contrast to the discord at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, committed each of the world's two largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters to substantial emissions reductions. China specifically committed its intent to cap or peak its CO2 emissions by "around 2030" and to make its best efforts to do so at an earlier date, by which time it intended to have 20 percent of its primary energy consumption generated from sources other than fossil fuels. The second was the Sunnylands Summit in September 2015 where the two presidents reaffirmed the joint announcement and elaborated on their respective domestic climate change action and international cooperation commitments.
Originally published by Law360, March 18, 2016
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