China and the United States pledge to cooperate to combat climate change
Is it time to do something?
China and the United States announced their commitment to work together and with other countries in the fight against climate change. The announcement follows several meetings held between the Chinese envoy for climate issues, Xie Zhenzua, and his US counterpart John Kerry, last week. Both agreed to take additional specific measures to reduce emissions, as confirmed by a joint statement issued this Sunday. US President Joe Biden will hold a virtual climate summit this week, which China says it looks forward to. However, it is not yet known whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will join world leaders who have promised to attend."The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to combat the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands," the statement read.
He added that both nations will continue to discuss "concrete actions in 2020 to reduce emissions with a view to reaching temperature limits in line with the Paris Agreement." Both nations also agreed to help developing countries finance their switch to low-carbon energy. Li Shuo, a senior climate adviser for the environmental group Greenpeace, described the statement as "positive."
"It sends a very unequivocal message that on this particular issue (China and the United States) will cooperate. Before the meetings in Shanghai, this was not a message that we could assume," Li told Reuters news agency.
The joint communiqué - symbolically issued from a round table - will relieve everyone who is concerned with the planet. It simply won't be possible to stabilize the climate without the super-polluting superpowers putting in more effort. A recent report, for example, says that China will have to shut down 588 coal-fired power plants to deliver on its climate promises.
Is China heading in the right direction on coal? No - its regional rulers have been building even more coal plants to stimulate the economy.
One of the results of the US-China meeting is the recognition that the financial flow should be focused on low-carbon, not high-carbon projects. Both parties also announced plans to further reduce their own emissions. President Biden will unveil his proposals before or during the US summit this week.
President Xi is being evasive about whether he will attend the summit. Instead, he could announce tougher targets for China at the Boao Forum - a Chinese forum for business and government leaders - also held this week. And don't forget: all other nations will need to commit to fighting climate change - not just superpowers.
Kerry's trip to China was the first high-level visit by a member of the Biden administration since the new president took office. However, Chinese and US officials had already met for talks in Alaska last month.
Before his trip to Shanghai, Kerry told him that China's cooperation was "absolutely critical" to combat the climate crisis.
"True, we have a lot of disagreements with China on some key issues, absolutely. But the climate has to be separate," he said. Climate scientists warn that global warming needs to be kept well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees, to avoid the worst deterioration of the climate.