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From Copenhagen to Paris

The Current State of Climate Negotiations

The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris, France, November 22, 2015. The capital will host the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) from November 30 to December 11. Charles Platiau / Reuters

When the world gathers in Paris at the end of this month for the latest round of climate negotiations, many eyes will be on the United States and China—and for good reason. Together, they produce more than two-fifths of the world’s CO2. And they will continue to be the most significant greenhouse-gas emitters, in absolute terms, for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, last November, U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Beijing to broker a climate partnership with China. At the time, Obama promised to reduce the United States’ emissions by 26–28 percent of its 2005 levels by 2025. China, in return, announced that it would reach its peak emissions by 2030, if not sooner. A year later, during his state visit to Washington in September, Chinese President Xi Jinping followed up on his pledge by committing China to a national cap-and-trade system for reducing emissions from key industrial sectors

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