The China-U.S. climate declaration is welcomed

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On November 1, 2021, the flags of the United States and China flutter from lamp posts near Chinatown in Boston, Massachusetts.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

LONDON-The United States and China stated in a joint statement that they will cooperate on a series of climate-related actions, which surprised many people.

The declaration was announced on Wednesday during the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and covered many issues, from reducing carbon dioxide and methane emissions to addressing illegal deforestation.

The statement said: “The two sides intend to seize this critical moment, expand their personal efforts and work together to accelerate the transition to a global net-zero economy.”

It also stated that it intends to establish a working group that will “meet regularly to address the climate crisis and advance the multilateral process, with a focus on strengthening specific actions for this decade.”

The cooperation plan between the United States and China has been widely welcomed by a series of stakeholders.

Genevieve Malik, Director of WWF’s U.S. Climate Policy Action, said in a statement: “The unexpected and welcome joint statement between the United States and China represents Important commitment.”

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“Equally important in the context of the agreement, they are also the two largest economies in the world,” Malik said.

“Between them, they have the ability to release a large amount of capital flows from the public and private sectors, thereby accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Manish Bapna, chief executive and chairman of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “The United States and China agreed to accelerate climate action and ambition in this decisive decade. This is good news.”

“The two largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters have pledged to strengthen cooperation on clean energy, methane and deforestation. This is a welcome step forward,” Bapner said.

“But if we are to control global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we urgently need to see the promise of cooperation translate into bolder climate targets and reliable delivery.”

Elsewhere, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated via Twitter that he Welcome the agreement reached between China and the United States.

“Tackling the climate crisis requires international cooperation and solidarity. This is an important step in the right direction,” Guterres said.

In another tweetFrans Timmermans, the executive vice chairman of the European Commission responsible for the European Green Agreement, said that the United States and China “found common ground on climate issues” is good news.

“This is a challenge that transcends politics,” he said. “Bilateral cooperation between the world’s two largest emitters should facilitate the negotiation of #COP26. Now we must find a global agreement that keeps 1.5 degrees alive.”

The mention of 1.5 degrees is an endorsement of the Paris Agreement, which was particularly prominent in the discussions in Glasgow.

The United Nations describes the Paris Agreement as a legally binding international climate change treaty that aims to “limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

The task is arduous. The United Nations pointed out that 1.5 degrees Celsius is considered the “upper limit” in terms of avoiding the most serious consequences of climate change.

Others who responded to the statement included Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International. Morgan said, “When the world’s two largest emitters collaborate on climate change issues, this is always welcome news, and it’s too late to readjust their relationship on this critical issue.”

“Their statement recognizes that the 1.5C target is at the core of any credible climate plan, and they set the 2020s as the decade we need to see practical actions,” she continued. “These things are very important, especially those from these two countries.”

Morgan argued that in the end, the US and China statements failed to meet the call of “climate vulnerable countries”, which “requested countries to return to the negotiating table with greater ambitions every year until the 1.5C gap narrowed.”

“So, it’s nice to see these two people sitting together at the table, but if this reset is to become a real breakthrough and build confidence around the world, then they need to increase their ambitions and commitment to implementation.”

Morgan said that this needs to start in Glasgow, “every country should use the last two days of these negotiations to reach the agreement the world needs.”

The UK will host COP26 from October 31st to November 12th.

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