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China and the USA announce an agreement on climate crisis at COP26
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China and the USA announce an agreement on climate crisis at COP26


Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate envoy, stated at a news conference that there is more agreement than divergence between the US and China. This makes it an area with huge potential for cooperation. “The joint statement released by China and the United States shows that cooperation is the only option. Our two countries can work together to achieve many important achievements that are not only beneficial to our countries, but to the entire world.

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Xie didn’t commit China the Global Methane Pledge. It was initiated by the US and EU. It requires signatories of the pledge to cut methane emissions by approximately a third. China wanted to be “differentiated” in his international responsibilities, so Xie did not commit China to any other major international agreements.

Xie however stated that China plans to develop its own national plan on methane.

“In terms of methane, the United States announced… [a methane]China will develop a national plan for methane and we will encourage and strengthen cooperation regarding methane mitigation and measurement,” Xie stated.

He stated that the US, China and Japan are “committed” to making their cooperation concrete and practical and building on institutions and mechanism. He also said that both countries will establish a working group to enhance climate action in the 2020s.

Earlier in day, the COP26 presidency published a draft agreement for the summit. It includes language that suggests the world should aim for global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, it acknowledges the contribution of fossil fuels to the climate crisis. This would mark the first annual summit.

Xie didn’t answer a question about whether China would support COP26 in its entirety, although he had previously stated that China was sticking to the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, but preferably 1.5 degrees. Since months, Chinese officials have stated that they will not support any changes to the Paris Agreement’s goals on temperature rise.

China, the largest coal consumer in the world, didn’t sign up to a statement at COP26 pledging to phase out coal use. India and the United States declined to sign on. These three countries are the largest coal consumers and emitters in the world.

The US and China have had strained relations that has hindered the success of previous global climate negotiations. The Kyoto Protocol, which predated the 2015 Paris Agreement was hampered by tensions between the two countries, was a success. China was not required to join the Kyoto Protocol as a developing nation, and the US refused signing on without China.

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