President Obama and Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao took the world by surprise today, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions though a sweeping nine-point cooperation plan.

China and the U.S. make up 44 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so the joint announcement could have dramatic impacts on the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen, as the two biggest kids on the block establish their own framework for assessing and reducing their respective carbon footprints.

Both leaders stated this weekend that a binding deal in December was off the table, but the U.S.-China cooperation plan has made up for the big letdown by sending a positive signal to world leaders that the two biggest polluters are very serious about a clean energy future.

According to Climate Progress, the plan is far more ambitious than anyone expected. Both the U.S. and China have been slow to signal specific climate initiatives, but the cooperation seems to have swept aside months of poker-facing.

The plan establishes nine points of cooperation, starting with a thorough and accurate accounting of China's current greenhouse gas emissions, a major feat that will support the nation in targeting strategic areas for carbon emissions reductions.

It also includes the establishment of several joint R&D institutions, public-private partnerships, and the development of joint standards. Here are the nine areas of collaboration listed in the agreement:

  1. China's greenhouse gas inventory
  2. Joint clean energy research center
  3. Electric vehicle standards
  4. Energy efficiency — codes, standards & testing
  5. Renewable energy roadmap
  6. 21st century coal (including carbon capture)
  7. Shale gas exploration
  8. Peaceful nuclear
  9. Public-private cleantech partnerships

You can read more details on the U.S. Department of Energy website.


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