China, U.S. agree on need for stronger climate commitments
China and the United States agreed in a joint statement on Sunday that greater promises to combat climate change could be made before a fresh round of international talks at the end of the year.
The announcement came after a meeting in Shanghai on Thursday and Friday between Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart, John Kerry, according to China’s environment ministry.
“The United States and China remain dedicated to working together together with other countries to address the climate problem,” the two countries said in a joint statement. The two countries will begin to talk about “concrete steps in the 2020s to curb pollution in order to meet the Paris Agreement-aligned temperature cap.”
Kerry arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday night, following strict COVID-19 guidelines, and was moved to a private hotel that was not accessible to the press. After that, he went to Seoul.
His visit to Shanghai was the first high-level visit to China by a Biden administration official since the new president took office, and it came after a tense exchange between officials from the two countries in Alaska in March.
The meetings also mark the resumption of climate negotiations between the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters. Bilateral talks came to a stop under Donald Trump’s presidency, after he withdrew from the 2015 Paris deal, saying it wrongly targeted American enterprises.
In order to regain the confidence of global partners, the United States is required to deliver a fresh commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Biden reintroduced the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.
Greenpeace senior climate advisor Li Shuo predicted that China will soon react to a new US pledge with one of its own, capitalising on the “momentum” of the Shanghai talks.
“The comment, in my opinion, is as optimistic as politics allows: it sends a clear message that (China and the US) will agree on this specific topic. This was not a message we might expect prior to the meetings in Shanghai “Li said.
This week, Biden will host a virtual conference for scores of world leaders to address climate change, which will be livestreamed for the public to see. The global climate talks are set to take place in Glasgow from November 1 to 12.
According to the release, the two countries have decided to explore concrete emission-cutting measures such as energy conservation, carbon capture, and hydrogen. They stated that they will take steps to increase funding for developed countries transitioning to low-carbon energy sources.
If countries are willing, the Paris agreement invites them to make more aggressive climate commitments. China has also pledged more aggressive measures as it strives to achieve its aim of being “carbon free” by 2060.