The U.S. and China have agreed
to cooperate on tracking China's carbon emissions, answering critics who claim the commitments made by the world's leading carbon polluter lack transparency, and setting the stage for a broader international dialogue.
The memorandum of cooperation between China's National Development and Reform Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls on the two nations to collaborate on "capacity building for developing greenhouse gas inventories" and other carbon-managing initiatives.
"I have to imagine this represents an increased and intensified effort to get China on the path of measuring and reporting its greenhouse gas emissions in a way that's internationally acceptable," said Julian L. Wong, a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.
Talk of international momentum leading up to Copenhagen comes as cautionary tales circulate about a similar effort long past: the 1997 Kyoto accord
, which was not ratified by the U.S.
Since that international treaty, which set binding emissions targets for 37 other industrialized nations and the European community, carbon pollution has increased and global warming has worsened
well beyond the projections of experts. In the 12 years since the accord was signed, ice masses in the Arctic and elsewhere have rapidly receded, the world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half, and droughts and wildfires have become more severe.