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United States and China are ‘committed to cooperating’ to tackle climate change

The two sides said Saturday that the United States and China are “committed to cooperating” on the pressing issue of climate change, issuing the pledge days ahead of a critical summit hosted by President Joe Biden. The joint statement came after a trip to Shanghai by US climate envoy John Kerry, the first official from Mr. Biden’s administration to visit China, signaling hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts. But to achieve the international climate goal, Mr. Kerry said words must be put into action and urged China to reduce its use of coal.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” said Mr. Kerry and China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua.

It listed multiple avenues of climate cooperation between the world’s top two economies, accounting for nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

It stressed, “enhancing their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”


Both countries also “look forward” to a virtual climate summit of world leaders that Mr. Biden will host next week, though the statement did not say if Chinese President Xi Jinping would attend.

“We very much hope he will take part,” Mr. Kerry, now in South Korea, told reporters on Sunday.

“Of course, every country will make its own decisions,” he said, adding: “We’re not seeking to force anybody. We’re seeking cooperation.”

‘Biggest coal user’

China currently has about half of the world’s coal power, Mr. Kerry said, adding that he “talked a lot” about it with officials in Shanghai.

“I am not pointing fingers,” said Mr Kerry.

“We’ve had too much coal, other countries have too much coal, but China is the biggest coal user in the world,” he added.

“And because it’s such a big and powerful economy and country, it needs to move.”

Mr. Biden has prioritized climate, turning the page from his predecessor, Donald Trump, who was closely aligned with the fossil fuel industry.

The US president had rejoined the 2015 Paris Accord, which Mr. Kerry negotiated when he was secretary of state, and committed nations to keep the temperature from rising no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

With the world badly off track to meeting the goal, Mr. Biden hopes his summit will result in more substantial pledges before UN-led climate talks in Glasgow at the end of the year.

‘Unequivocal commitment’

According to their statement, Washington and Beijing “intend to develop” their respective long-term strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by the Glasgow meeting.

Other moves in the near term include boosting “international investment and finance” to support the transition to green energy in developing countries and phasing out the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, gases used in refrigeration, air conditioners, and aerosols.

Longer-term actions that need to be taken to keep the temperature goals of the Paris Accord “within reach” include reducing emissions from industry and power generation while stepping up renewable energy, clean transportation, and climate-resistant agriculture.

The United States and China’s pledge to cooperate on climate follows recent acrimony over accusations about China’s policies in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uighurs in its northwestern Xinjiang region – criticisms Beijing rejects as interference in its domestic affairs.

If the United States refuses to work with China on climate because of other disagreements, “you’re just killing yourself,” Mr. Kerry told CNN before his trip to Shanghai. Li Shuo, a policy advisor at Greenpeace East Asia, said the joint statement showed the “unequivocal commitment” of the United States and China to tackling climate change and should “put global climate momentum back in high gear.”

“The difficult meetings in Shanghai bore fruit. Let that move the politics closer to where science requires us to be,” he said. China – the world’s biggest polluter – has announced an ambitious target to be carbon-neutral by 2060. Still, analysts have warned high reliance on coal and modest short-term targets could scupper the ambition.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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