GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The world’s top carbon polluters, China and the United States, agreed on Wednesday to step up their cooperation and accelerate action to curb climate-damaging emissions. their other disputes.
During back-to-back press conferences during UN climate talks in Glasgow, China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and 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. achieve 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.”
“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.
China also agreed for the first time to address methane leaks, following the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the potent greenhouse gas. Beijing and Washington agreed to share technology to reduce emissions.
Governments agreed in Paris 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 limit warming to Keep 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) preferred.
Both sides 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.
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 in the way the 2014 US-China climate deal was, in many ways it’s just such a step forward given the geopolitical state of the relationship,” said Thom Woodroofe, a climate expert. between the US 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 comes 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.
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.”
The announcement came as governments from around the world negotiated in Glasgow how to build on the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect vulnerable countries from the effects of global warming.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the move “an important step in the right direction”.
Some experts noted that the deal lacked commitments that would significantly reduce the gases that trap heat.
“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 after the methane stuff,” said Byford Tsang, a China policy analyst for the European think tank E3G .
Earlier Wednesday, a draft of a larger deal negotiated by nearly 200 countries in Glasgow called for the phasing out of coal – the largest source of man-made emissions – though it did not set a timeline.
Setting deadlines for phasing out fossil fuels is highly sensitive to countries that still depend on them for economic growth, including China and India, and to major coal exporters such as Australia. The future of coal is also a hot-button issue in the US, where a feud among Democrats has held up one of President Joe Biden’s signature climate laws.
Jennifer Morgan, director of Greenpeace International, an observer on climate talks, said the draft call to phase out coal would be a first in a UN climate accord, but the lack of a timeline would limit the promise’s effectiveness.
“This is not the plan to solve the climate crisis. This doesn’t give the kids on the streets the confidence they need,” Morgan said.
The draft also expresses “alarm and concern” about how much the Earth has already warmed and urges countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions by about half by 2030. Promises to date from governments do not match that oft-stated goal.
The draft is likely to change, but it does not yet contain a full agreement on the three main goals the UN has set in the negotiations: rich countries should give the poorer $100 billion a year in climate aid to ensure that half of the that money goes towards adapting to worsening global warming and the promise to reduce global carbon emissions by 2030.
It acknowledges “with regret” that rich countries have failed to deliver on their pledge on climate finance. Currently, they provide about $80 billion a year, which poorer countries in need of financial assistance, both in developing green energy systems and adapting to the worst climate change, say is not enough.
Papua New Guinea’s Environment Minister Wera Mori said that given the lack of financial aid, his country could “rethink” efforts to reduce logging, mining and even UN talks.
The draft says the world should aim to reach “net zero (emissions)” by mid-century, a target endorsed by leaders of the Group of 20 Largest Economies at a summit just ahead of talks in Glasgow. . This means that countries are only allowed to pump into the atmosphere as much greenhouse gas as can be absorbed naturally or artificially.
In a nod to one of the major problems facing poorer countries, the design vaguely “forces” developed countries to compensate developing countries for “loss and damage,” an expression some rich countries don’t like. But there are no concrete financial commitments.
Britain’s Alok Sharma, who is chairing the negotiations, acknowledged that “major issues remain unresolved”.
“My big, big question to all of you is to please come armed with the currency of a 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.”
Associated Press journalist Helena Alves contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.