China and U.S. reaching climate change agreement. Photo by Pete Souza:Cultural program during the APEC Welcoming Banquet at the Beijing National Aquatics Center.

China and U.S. reaching climate change agreement, with ambitious goals that the Chinese need very badly if they are to save the health of their people.

Photo by Pete Souza via Instagram: Cultural program during the APEC Welcoming Banquet at the Beijing National Aquatics Center.

AFTER A day where all the headlines heralded groundbreaking news like President Obama chews gum, and President Putin‘s chivalry was rebuffed by China’s first lady, APEC actually yielded pledges on climate change, which could be a beginning to saving the world, or at least the Chinese people from perpetual asthma and death from the air they breathe.

Headlines range from “historic” to “major milestone” to describe the agreement, wigh the AP’s “ambitious” the most accurate, in my opinion.

From Mother Jones, a bit of sober analysis mixed with a “huge deal” headline.

But the White House was more cautiously optimistic on China’s goal of reaching the goal of 20 percent total energy consumption from zero-emission sources by 2030. It painted a picture of the challenges ahead for the energy-hungry giant: “It will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030—more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.”

This is the first time such a policy has come from the very top, President Xi Jinping. Previously, the first and only mention of “peaking” came from Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli at the UN climate talks in New York in September.

“This is clearly a sign of the seriousness and the importance the Chinese government is giving to this issue,” said Barbara Finamore, Asia director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental advocacy group, in an interview from Hong Kong. “The relationship [between the US and China] is tricky, but climate has been one of the areas where the two sides can and are finding common ground.”

The Chinese are being forced to do something, because the air in Beijing requires masks to walk around during the day, even as businesses are closed for APEC festivities to make things look a bit better than reality.

The air is a dangerous health issue for the Chinese, which could cost them in so many ways if they don’t face their energy challenges.