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Friday, December 3, 2021

COP26: China and US agree to boost climate cooperation

ART GALLERY

China and the US have agreed to boost climate co-operation over the next decade, in a surprise announcement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

The world’s two biggest CO2 emitters pledged to act in a joint declaration.

It states that both parties will “recall their firm commitment to work together” to meet the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

They called for increased efforts to close the “significant gap” that still exists in order to meet that target.

According to scientists, limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius will help humanity avoid the worst climate impacts. When compared to pre-industrial temperatures, this is significant.

In Paris in 2015, world leaders pledged to try to keep the world from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius by implementing drastic emissions cuts.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate negotiator, told reporters that on climate change, “there is more agreement than divergence between China and the US.”

US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set to meet virtually as soon as next week. On a number of issues, the two countries are viewed as global rivals.

In a rare joint declaration issued on Wednesday, steps were agreed on a variety of issues, including methane emissions, the transition to clean energy, and de-carbonization.

However, China refused to sign on to a deal earlier this week to limit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Nearly 100 other countries signed on to the agreement. Instead, China has pledged to create a “national plan” to combat methane.

China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said the US and China had held more than 30 virtual meetings

Mr. Xie was followed by US climate envoy John Kerry, who stated that the US and China “have no shortage of differences, but on climate, cooperation is the only way to get this job done.”

“Right now, every step counts, and we have a long journey ahead of us,” he said.

The final part of the title – a joint declaration on enhancing climate action in the 2020s – may be the most important clue as to the significance of this statement.

If the world is to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius, the steps taken to reduce carbon emissions over the next nine years are critical.

While China has been hesitant to address domestic coal emissions in the short term, this statement recognises the importance of action.

As a result, the agreed-upon joint steps on methane, forests, and technology transfer are significant both symbolically and potentially in terms of emissions.

The agreement also acknowledges that there is a massive gap between countries’ efforts to limit emissions to date and what science says is required for a safer world.

Closing that gap requires strong agreement in Glasgow.

Regardless of the contents, the optics and timing of this statement certainly help.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan welcomed the declaration between China and the United States, but cautioned that both countries needed to demonstrate greater commitment to meeting climate targets.

“Ultimately, their statement falls short of the call by climate-vulnerable countries demanding that nations return to the table with greater ambition every year until the 1.5C gap is closed,” she said.

The collaboration between China and the United States is “really encouraging,” according to EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans. “It also demonstrates that the United States and China recognise that this issue transcends all other concerns. And it certainly aids us in reaching an agreement here at COP “He went on to say

The announcement, according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, is “an important step in the right direction.”

COP26 is the largest climate change conference since the historic Paris talks in 2015. Around 200 countries have been asked to submit plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming, by 2030.

In other developments at the COP26 climate summit today:

  • A draft of a final COP26 deal was announced, with countries being urged to strengthen carbon-cutting targets by the end of 2022. The document also urges more help for vulnerable nations – but the text has been criticised by many for not being ambitious enough
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged other national leaders to give their negotiators more leverage to reach a final deal. Speaking at a news conference, he insisted the ambition of keeping global temperature rises below 1.5C was not yet dead
  • The sentiment was echoed by COP26 President Alok Sharma, who said, “We all know what is at stake in these negotiations and indeed the urgency of our task.” He also suggested “near-final texts” on an agreement could be published overnight before groups convene again tomorrow ahead of the intended final day of the conference on Friday
  • The focus of COP26 today was travel. Dozens of countries have promised to phase out petrol and diesel-powered cars but the US, China and Germany haven’t signed up. A number of major manufacturers – including Ford and Mercedes – have pledged commitments too.

Last week, US Vice President Joe Biden chastised Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to attend the summit in person.

“The fact that China is, understandably, attempting to assert a new role in the world as a world leader – not showing up, come on,” Mr Biden said, adding that Xi Jinping’s absence was a “big mistake.”

China is the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, followed by the United States. Mr. Xi announced in September that China will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060, with a goal of reaching peak emissions before 2030. The United States intends to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

SourceBBC
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