The United States and China recently announced a joint climate agreement that creates unprecedented political momentum for the Paris COP21 to be held in December 2015. Yet, it is unclear whether such a deal is an historic breakthrough or business as usual policy. A closer look at the US-China climate agreement shows that the chances that the agreed measures have of limiting global warming to 2°C are very few. If seen in terms of concrete policy action, the US pledge comes closer to a pathway compatible with a 2°C target. By contrast, however, China’s pledges are far from consistent with a 2°C pathway. As the COP21 approaches, it is becoming clear that China matters more than ever for an effective climate deal. But it is also becoming increasingly clear that, in the best case scenario, Beijing will support a start now/sprint later agreement in Paris.
Keywords: climate policy, climate politics, global warming, US, China