China and the United States announced Wednesday a rare joint effort to deliver climate action. This was said by Beijing’s long-time climate envoy, who spoke at the COP26 summit.
“Both parties recognize that there is a gap among the current effort, and the Paris Agreement goals, so we will jointly strengthen Climate Action,” XieZhenhua announced to reporters in a surprise statement.
The two largest carbon emitters in the world are China and the US. Together, they account for almost 40 percent of all carbon pollution.
Xie stated that the plan would include “concrete plans” to intensify action in the next decade, and that the US and China were both ready to “work on the finalization of the Paris Agreement rulebook” at UN climate summit in Glasgow. He added that many of the climate issues have been resolved by the countries at COP26 and they are now in agreement on the need for methane and illegal logging.
To increase action in 2020s, the nations will create a working group that will meet in the first quarter of next year.
The announcement was surprising in Glasgow, where negotiators were engaged in heated discussions about how they can accelerate measures to reduce global temperatures.
The declaration, which was published online shortly after the announcement, stated that both countries “recognize and respond to the urgency and seriousness of climate crisis.”
The document stated that the “They are committed towards tackling it through the respective accelerated actions within the critical decade of 2020s.”
It said the US and China considered work to slash their emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – this decade “a necessity.”
The 2015 Paris Agreement commits nations to limiting global temperature increases to 1.5C to 2C by implementing broad emissions cuts.
Xie stated that China and the US had held 30 virtual meetings over the last 10 month to create the initiative.
He said, “As the major powers in the global world, China is and the United States must assume the responsibility to work with other parties to address the climate change.”
Joe Biden, the US president, said last week that Xi Jinping was “walking away” from climate crisis because he had skipped the COP26 summit.
China responded at the same time, but relations seem to have thawed ahead long-awaited bilateral talks next Tuesday.
Xie said that the release of the joint declaration showed that cooperation was the only option for China as well as the US.
Glasgow delegations are negotiating how to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goals. They also discuss how to help climate-vulnerable countries fight climate change.
According to the United Nations, all countries’ emission reduction plans are set to increase Earth’s temperature by 2.7C by 2100.
UN Secretary General António Guterres tweeted that the US-China accord was “an important step in the right direction.”
Guterres expressed his appreciation for Washington’s and Beijing’s efforts to collaborate to improve climate action in a tweet shortly after the announcement of the agreement was made.
“Tackling the Climate Crisis requires international collaboration and solidarity, and this is an important first step in the right direction,” he stated.
“The big significance of this is geopolitical,” said Nick Mabey, co-founder of think tank E3G. “This high-profile commitment puts pressure on both countries to move their positions to make COP26 a success.”
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