But the meaning of the statement does not lie in the details, but in its weight.
“Cooperation is the only choice for both China and the United States,” Xie told reporters through a translator.
“By working together, our two countries can achieve many important things that are beneficial not only for our two countries, but for the world as a whole. As two great powers in the world, China and the US bear special international responsibilities and obligations.”
“With this statement, the world’s two most powerful countries and biggest emitters have committed to working together to accelerate action,” said Simon Bradshaw, the Climate Council’s lead researcher, who is an observer in Glasgow.
When these two nations act, he says, geopolitical gravity shifts.
The statement also defuses the biggest threat to the talks, which is pointing fingers between the two nations: China accusing the US of not honoring its statements, the US accusing China of being absent from the talks and reluctant regarding the problem.
The split provided cover for smaller parties with an interest in slowing climate action, said Byford Tsang, a China specialist at global climate think tank E3G, who also observes discussions in Glasgow.
Indeed, in an interview earlier in the day, Ireland’s former president shed tears in an interview as she described the gap between the attitudes of climate-sensitive countries in negotiations and those she believes were not sufficiently involved, including China, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Australia, which she said remained in “fossil fuel mode rather than crisis mode”.
That coverage is now gone, or at least reduced, and the mood in Glasgow is considerably lighter as a result.
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