US and China vow to work together on climate action in the 2020s

In a surprise move, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters have issued a joint declaration on enhancing climate action in the 2020s, pledging to cooperate on a range of issues such as methane, forests and clean energy.

The announcement came on Wednesday, after more than 30 virtual meetings between China’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart John Kerry, who are both attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The two countries are seen as global rivals on a number of issues, such as trade, human rights and security, but they have agreed to put aside their differences and work together on the climate crisis.

US and China vow to work together on climate action in the 2020s
US and China vow to work together on climate action in the 2020s

The joint declaration says both sides will “recall their firm commitment to work together” to achieve the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. They called for stepped-up efforts to close the “significant gap” that remains to achieve that target. Scientists say that limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C will help humanity avoid the worst climate impacts, such as more extreme weather, sea level rise and biodiversity loss.

Concrete steps to reduce emissions

The declaration outlines several concrete steps that the US and China will take to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2020s, which are crucial for keeping the 1.5C goal within reach. These include:

  • Developing and implementing regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, in key sectors such as power, industry, transport and buildings.
  • Accelerating the transition to clean energy, including by increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption, phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and promoting green and low-carbon development along the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Enhancing action to control and reduce methane emissions, including by developing a national plan for China and joining the Global Methane Pledge for the US, which aims to cut methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels.
  • Strengthening cooperation on forest conservation and restoration, including by supporting the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which commits to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030, and the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which aims to end and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
  • Advancing cooperation on technology innovation and transfer, especially for low-carbon and adaptation technologies, and supporting developing countries in enhancing their climate actions and resilience.

A boost for the COP26 negotiations

The joint declaration by the US and China, which together account for nearly half of the world’s CO2 emissions, has been welcomed by many as a positive sign for the COP26 negotiations, which are entering their final days. The talks have been marked by disagreements over key issues such as climate finance, loss and damage, and carbon markets.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted that he welcomed the agreement by the US and China to work together to take more ambitious climate action in this decade. “Tackling the climate crisis requires international collaboration and solidarity, and this is an important step in the right direction,” he said.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan also praised the declaration, but warned that both countries needed to show greater commitment to reaching the climate goals. “This is a good start, but both countries must do more. The US must double its 2030 emissions reduction target, and China must peak its emissions before 2025 and end its overseas financing of coal,” she said.

The joint declaration by the US and China is expected to add momentum to the COP26 talks, which are due to end on Friday. The outcome of the summit will have a significant impact on the future of the planet and the well-being of billions of people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *