China and US agree to boost climate cooperation with COP26 “on life support” – Community News
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China and US agree to boost climate cooperation with COP26 “on life support”

Glasgow, Scotland – The world’s top carbon polluters, China and the United States, agreed on Wednesday to step up cooperation and accelerate action to curb climate-damaging emissions, signaling a mutual effort on global warming at a time of tension over their other disputes. The agreement was met with cautious optimism by others during the ongoing UN climate talks in Scotland, but it was not clear whether the bilateral agreement would be enough to accelerate efforts towards a much broader agreement. COP26, as the UN chief warned, the main purpose of the conference was “life support”.

During back-to-back press conferences at COP26, China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart John Kerry said the two countries would work together to accelerate emissions reductions needed to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

“It is beneficial not only for our two countries, but for the world as a whole that two major world powers, China and the US, are taking on special international responsibilities and obligations,” Xie told reporters. “We have to think big and be responsible.”

Then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Xie Zhenhua (R), China’s Special Representative for Climate Change at the COP21 climate conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, December 12, 2015.


“The steps we’re taking … can answer questions people have about the pace at which China is going, and help China and us accelerate our efforts,” Kerry said.

Mark Phillips, CBS News’ senior foreign correspondent, said that around the COP26 summit, rumors had circulated that the US and China had been meeting behind the scenes for weeks to see if they could come up with a coordinated approach. The joint statement presented by the two nations on Thursday was the result.

Phillips said many at the conference welcomed the US-China statement as at least good news, as there wasn’t much else to whine about.

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It seemed increasingly unlikely that COP26 would achieve its primary goal of getting the world’s largest greenhouse gas producers to agree to cut their emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a target set by the Paris Agreement in 2015.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that ambitions for an agreement to achieve that goal were “life-sustaining” as talks entered their final hour, but added that “hope must be maintained until the last minute”.

Before his speech to the summit, Guterres told The Associated Press that the negotiations in Glasgow, which were set to end Friday, would “most likely” fail to deliver the carbon reduction commitments needed to prevent the planet from warming beyond the threshold. of 1.5 degrees.

Climate COP26 summit
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gestures during an interview at the COP26 UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, November 11, 2021.

Alberto Pezzali/AP

In the joint statement, China recognizes for the first time the need to cut its methane emissions, following the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the potent greenhouse gas. But the country is still on track to increase its carbon dioxide emissions in the current decade, and as Phillips points out, scientists have made it clear that methane and CO2 must both be drastically curtailed if the worst future effects of climate change are to be averted.

Beijing and Washington agreed to share technology to reduce emissions.

In 2015, governments in Paris agreed to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global temperature rise since pre-industrial times “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), with a stricter goal of trying to keep the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) is preferred.

Both Washington and Beijing recognize that there is a gap between global efforts to reduce climate pollution and the goals of the Paris deal, Xie said.

“So we will jointly strengthen climate action and cooperation regarding our respective national situations,” he said.

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A bilateral deal between the US and China in 2014 gave a huge push toward the historic Paris accord the following year, but that collaboration ended with the Trump administration, which pulled the US out of the pact. The Biden administration has rejoined the US in that deal, but has clashed with China over other issues, such as cybersecurity, human rights and Chinese territorial claims.

“While this isn’t a game-changer like the 2014 US-China climate deal was, in many ways it’s just as much of a step forward given the geopolitical state of the relationship,” said Thom Woodroofe, an expert on US climate change. and China. conversations. “It means that the intense level of dialogue between the US and China on climate can now translate into cooperation.”

The goodwill gesture came just days after President Joe Biden blamed Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin for the lack of further progress in climate negotiations.

The US and China will also revive a working group that “will meet regularly to address the climate crisis and advance the multilateral process, with an emphasis on strengthening concrete actions in this decade,” the statement said.

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Both Washington and Beijing plan to update the world on their new national targets for 2035 by 2025 – a move that is especially important for China. The statement also said China will do “everything to accelerate its plans to reduce coal consumption in the second half of this decade”.

But some experts noted that the deal contained too few commitments that would significantly reduce heat-trapping gases.

“It’s a good sign that the world’s two biggest emitters can actually work together to face humanity’s greatest crisis, but there isn’t much meat left after the methane stuff,” said Byford Tsang, a policy analyst for China. for the European think tank E3G.

Britain’s Alok Sharma, who is chairing the COP26 negotiations, acknowledged that “key issues remain unresolved” in the wider talks between all countries attending the conference.

“My big, big question to all of you is to please come armed with the currency of the compromise,” he told the negotiators. “What we agree in Glasgow will determine the future for our children and grandchildren, and I know we will not let them down.”