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US-China Renewed Collaboration to Tackle Climate Change Builds Momentum for COP28

CRISIS - Viability of Life on Earth by Martina Igini Americas Asia Nov 16th 20233 mins
US-China Renewed Collaboration to Tackle Climate Change Builds Momentum for COP28

The joint statement was released after a four-day meeting in California between the US and China, the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, to discuss cooperation to tackle climate change. It comes ahead of the UN climate summit, which is set to begin in two weeks in Dubai. 

The US and China have renewed their commitment to work together to address climate change, pledging to collaborate on issues including the energy transition, methane, the circular economy, low-carbon urban development, and deforestation.

According to a joint statement released Tuesday following a four-day meeting in California, the world’s two largest polluting countries will work together to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming below 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels.

US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, who had already met last July, said both the US and China recognise the urgency of addressing the climate crisis as highlighted in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report. Both countries have been hit by unprecedented extreme weather events in recent months, with the US recently setting a new record for the most billion-dollar natural disasters in a single year. 

You might also like: 8 Key Findings from the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Beijing and Washington said they would “pursue efforts” to triple renewable capacity by the end of the current decade. 

According to a study published in July, China, already the global leader in renewable energy, is on track to double its wind and solar capacity by 2025 and reach its clean energy target five years ahead of schedule. The US has also made some progress in recent years in terms of clean energy following the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the biggest climate bill in the country’s history, which includes significant investments in renewables, particularly solar and offshore wind, as well as new credits for nuclear power production and clean hydrogen and incentives to develop more facilities that produce clean energy inputs, components, and finished products. Nevertheless, as of April 2023, renewable energy represented just 13% of the country’s energy mix, while oil and natural gas made up more than 60%.

Share of primary energy from renewable sources. Image: Our World in Data
China has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy in recent years. Image: Our World in Data.

The statement includes a pledge to cut emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 84-86 times higher in global warming potential than carbon dioxide across a 20-year period – and other greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide. In a document released last week, China, the world’s largest emitter of methane, said it will boost monitoring, reporting, and data transparency to reduce methane pollution.

The two superpowers also said they are “determined to end plastic pollution” and will cooperate “to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including the marine environment.”

They pledged to also support subnational climate cooperation. Last month, California governor Gavin Newsom made a weeklong trip to China to promote joint efforts in several Chinese cities and provinces and strengthen collaboration in sectors including electric vehicles and renewable energy.

The relaunch of the Working Group comes at a crucial time, as world leaders prepare to convene in Dubai for the UN climate summit, COP28. Both superpowers emphasised the significance of the summit in effectively addressing the climate crisis and their responsibility in terms of national actions and collaborative efforts to fulfil the objectives of the Paris Agreement and uphold multilateralism. 

“The United States and China are committed to further their dialogues, efforts, and collaboration to support the UAE Presidency for the success of COP28,” the statement reads.

Featured image: Rawpixel

You might also like: What Can We Expect From COP28, And What Must Happen?

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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