President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping drink a toast.
The United States and China are entering a historic agreement to cut carbon emissions
, and Republicans are predictably outraged, since it both represents President Obama getting something done and thwarts their efforts to accelerate climate change. The good news first:
As part of the agreement, Mr. Obama announced that the United States would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. That is double the pace of reduction it targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020.
China’s pledge to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, is even more remarkable. To reach that goal, Mr. Xi pledged that so-called clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.
Since China and the U.S. are the world's first and second leading carbon polluters, their participation is required to make meaningful progress in cutting emissions worldwide and at least slowing the accelerating disaster of climate change. But Republicans want to keep a "burn, baby, burn" policy in place, when it comes to coal, anyway. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Inhofe—expected to be the majority leader and chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, respectively, in the upcoming Congress—were trashing the agreement
in statements within hours of its announcement.
"Our economy can't take the President's ideological War on Coal," said McConnell, because apparently clean air and a few unmelted glaciers are an ideological, not a practical, goal. He then went on to blather about coal miners as if Mitch McConnell ever in his life sincerely cared about a working-class person and as if Kentucky's coal jobs had not been slashed by mechanization and tapped-out coal reserves long before Barack Obama was ever elected president.
The agreement with China does not need congressional approval, though Republicans can and will try to stand in the way of the regulatory steps needed to actually make the agreement work.