The US and China have released a joint statement in which they have committed to work together to tackle climate change. This follows meetings between senior envoys last week that were held in the midst of rising geopolitical tensions between the two major countries.
What is Happening?
- The two countries will work together and with other parties to support implementation of the Paris Agreement and to support a successful COP26 conference in November, they said in the statement.
- The announcement comes amid tensions over issues ranging from trade to alleged human rights abuses by China. Last week, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshide Suga met where they “shared their concerns over Chinese activities that are inconsistent with the international rules-based order. However, China’s Foreign Ministry rejected the criticism and accused both countries’ leaders of “meddling in its affairs.”
Li Shuo, a Beijing-based climate analyst at Greenpeace East Asia, said in an email to Bloomberg, “The joint statement is a firm step towards cooperation amid great geopolitical challenges. The statement underlined the need for near-term ambitious actions and will launch a process of continued G2 engagement on an existential issue of global interest.”
- Biden will host a virtual climate conference on Thursday (Earth Day) and Friday with world leaders, where he hopes to “raise global climate ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and support.” Chinese President Xi Jinping will participate in the conference.
- China has faced growing pressure from other countries to accelerate its path to peak emissions and to set out clearer details of how it intends to reach net-zero emissions by 2060. Its most recent five-year plan, released in March, has also faced criticism over a lack of ambition and the fact that it didn’t include any new hard target for reducing emissions.
- In 2014, Xi and President Barack Obama negotiated a bilateral emissions deal that helped pave the way for the 2015 Paris Agreement.
While this commitment from China and the US, two of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, is positive in what is a vital decade for climate change, much work remains. China plans to increase carbon emissions through to 2030 and its government continues to support the country’s vast coal industry.
Featured image by: Flickr