The world’s two biggest carbon polluters just reached an unexpected and major climate deal to slash greenhouse gases and increase investment in renewable energy. President Obama and President Xi Jinping announced their ambitious joint plan to tackle climate change with new emissions goals on Wednesday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing. The U.S. says it will reduce its carbon emissions by 26 to 28-percent below 2005 levels by 2025–nearly twice the rate of reduction in the previous target–and, for the first time ever, China stated that it intends to achieve the peaking of its carbon emissions by 2030.

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Despite their competitive relationship, the U.S. and China found common ground on climate change in a surprising, but promising bilateral agreement reached after nine months of quiet negotiations. Although the two superpower rivals account for over a third of global greenhouse emissions, the U.S. and China are also two of the world’s largest investors in clean energy. Both presidents have agreed to work collaboratively on global climate change, a challenge that the White House calls “one of the greatest threats facing humanity.”

China hopes to achieve its ambitious plans to peak carbon emissions by 2030 by boosting investment in clean energy sources, which the country says may account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030. The details of this seemingly promising development, however, remain hazy. According to the Guardian, the heavily coal-dependent country has a history of keeping its emissions data “notoriously opaque,” and analysts had already previously predicted that China’s emissions would peak around 2030 “barring any significant changes in policy.”

Related: China’s Climate Change Initiatives Are Leaving the US in the Dust

Obama’s new reduction targets are also on shaky ground. The Republican-dominated Congress will likely oppose the deal on the grounds that curbing carbon emissions will lead to higher utility prices and job losses in the coal industry. Still, the breakthrough agreement is expected to inspire other nations to follow suit with similar carbon curbing initiatives and give new impetus to the upcoming 2015 global climate talks in Paris.

Via The Guardian

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