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US, China May Set Emissions Reduction Goals


During talks in Beijing, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao endorsed a package of energy projects, including deals on clean coal and electric vehicles. Environmental analysts say the talks offer new hope the two countries will soon offer targets on emissions reduction.

During talks in Beijing, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao endorsed a package of energy projects, including deals on clean coal and electric vehicles. Environmental analysts say the talks offer new hope the two countries will soon offer targets on emissions reduction.

The U.S. and China are the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. That can add up to a lot of smog, and, environmentalists say, a warming planet.

Climate change was a hot item in meetings this week in Beijing between Barack Obama and Hu Jintao.

"The two sides reached broad, important agreement. The talks were candid, constructive and very fruitful," Hu said.

Environmental analysts now expect the U.S. to offer emissions-reduction targets at next month's climate summit in Copenhagen, if China will do the same.

"Our aim there, in support of what Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark is trying to achieve, is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations," President Obama said.

China and the U.S. also signed agreements on renewable energy, energy efficiency, cleaner uses of coal and the promotion of electric vehicles.

Climate change analyst and blogger Jake Schmidt, says it's welcome news since both countries have balked at setting emissions goals.

Climate change analyst and blogger Jake Schmidt

Climate change analyst and blogger Jake Schmidt

"I think it's meaningful because every time you have world leaders, and these are crucial world leaders, talking about the environment it's a good thing," he said. And they signaled clear steps that the two sides are going to take, to deal with this issue, and that's positive."

Schmidt sees subtle shifts in the way China is talking about the planet.

"China is starting to see how it is viewed in the world as an important kind of future of its identity and I think that has an impact and since the world is so focused on global warming and all the world leaders are talking about it, China doesn't want to be the rogue on this issue," Schmidt said.

Environmental analysts say that for the U.S. to have credibility on the world stage, it must pass global warming legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a climate bill that includes a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. Similar legislation is underway in the Senate.

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