U.S.-China Announce Surprise Joint Promise To Help Slow Climate Change

U.S.-China Announce Surprise Joint Promise To Help Slow Climate Change

Topline

The U.S. and China vowed to work together to fight climate change in a surprise joint announcement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Wednesday, with China’s special climate negotiator saying Beijing will come up with a plan to cut methane emissions.

Key Facts

In a joint declaration called “Declaration for Enhanced Climate Action in the 2020s,” Washington and Beijing highlight the importance of limiting the increase in the global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius pre-industrial levels and below 2 degrees Celsius, the Washington Post reports.

Reuters reports that China’s special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said China would craft a plan to reduce methane emissions — which has been a top priority for the U.S. delegation at the climate conference.

Xie said at a presser that Beijing and Washington “need to actively address climate change” and that cooperation between the two superpowers would benefit “people around the world.”

The announcement came as a surprise as Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t attend this year’s COP26 climate conference in person that is slated to end November 12.

China has drawn criticism from President Biden and others for failing to commit to combat the climate crisis.

In 2025, the U.S. and China are expected to exchange their 10-year targets for reducing emissions for 2035, Reuters reports.

What To Watch For

Where’s Russia? The joint pledge between the U.S. and China leaves out Russia, another major polluter and one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel exporters. Before the joint pledge, President Biden had expressed “disappointment” at his Chinese counterpart Xi and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for not attending the summit in person. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova refuted Biden’s remarks, saying “unlike our American counterparts, the Russian Federation vigorously and, I emphasize, consistently fulfills its obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement,” according to Russian news agency Tass. Reuters reports Russia’s temperature increased 2.8 times faster compared to the international average.

Crucial Quote

“This is science,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said at a presser. He added that “we can’t reach our goals” unless countries work together.

Big Number

38%. That’s the percent of global greenhouse gas emissions China and the U.S. were jointly responsible for in 2019, according to research firm Rhodium Group. China was the biggest polluter, responsible for 27% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world, followed by the U.S.’ share of 11%. 

Key Background

In September, the U.S. and European Union announced the Global Methane Pledge initiative to cut down global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, was responsible for around 0.5 degree Celsius rise in the global average temperature since the pre-industrial era, the White House said in a statement based on an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

Further Reading

Biden Expresses ‘Disappointment’ At China And Russia’s Absence From G20 Summit (Forbes)

China says agreed with U.S. to boost cooperation on climate change (Reuters)

Chinese climate envoy says US and China have agreed to increase cooperation on climate change in joint statement (Associated Press)



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