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The U.S.-China Climate Agreement: How the Deal Was Done

Last year’s U.S.-China climate deal will reduce China’s carbon pollution by 790 billion tons if it extends through 2060, and this Rolling Stone article has the inside story of how the deal was done.

“In the works for nearly a year, the agreement unfolded in a series of secret meetings in the United States and China and was carried out with the brinkmanship and bravado of a Vegas poker game,” writes Contributing Editor Jeff Goodell.

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Exploratory talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators Todd Stern and Xie Zhenhua began in February, “but the complexity of these negotiations is hard to overestimate,” Goodell says. “For one thing, CO2 pollution is on some level a proxy for economic development, so agreeing to cut carbon emissions is tantamount to calling for limits on economic growth—a tall order on its own, but even more difficult in an atmosphere of deepening distrust.”

Final details of the agreement were hammered out the day before the announcement, Rolling Stone reports. “In one move, Obama and Xi broke the logjam of climate politics,” noted Indian Parliamentarian and climate negotiator Jairam Ramesh. “Until now, China has insisted that the U.S. and the EU are largely responsible for climate change. But this raises the bar for other nations.”