Facing Facts

China Vows Emissions Decrease

China has become known for its sky-high levels of pollution—the nation gets 70 percent of its energy from coal—but at Tuesday’s U.N. climate summit, President Hu Jintao vowed to curb the nation’s C02 emissions and to “vigorously develop” renewable and nuclear energy. Any change would be incremental, though: Hu promised only to curb emissions per unit of GDP, which would make little difference in a country with an ever-expanding economy, and many are pressing Hu for more concrete figures. Critics have also raised eyebrows over the U.S. commitment to the environment, saying that Obama’s stated target of returning to 1990 emissions levels by 2020 is not a large-enough step. Obama, for his part, pledged a “new era” of clean energy.