The United States and China issued a surprise announcement regarding their new agreement to boot climate-cooperation over the next decade. These two countries are some of the world’s largest polluters and their commitment to the 1.5 degree Celsius goal is vital to the world economy. This change in conversation marks a more hopeful path towards tackling climate change and securing the goals of COP26.
The United States Department of State issued a media note concerning the deal made at COP26 between the United States and China regarding the cooperation needed to reach the 1.5 degree Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement. This will ultimately work towards accomplishing a global net zero economy.
The framework of their cooperation was outlined as involving: “regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2020s; maximizing the societal benefits of the clean energy transition; policies to encourage decarbonization and electrification of end-use sectors; key areas related to the circular economy, such as green design and renewable resource utilization; and deployment and application of technology such as CCUS and direct air capture.”
Regarding methane emissions, both the United States and China have agreed to enhance methane emission control and provide national action plans (in addition to their required NDCs through the Paris Agreement). They also intend to meet in the first half of 2022 to “focus on specifics of enhancing measurement and mitigation.”
Regarding CO2 emissions, both countries intend to cooperate on “policies that support the effective integration of high shares of low-cost intermittent renewable energy; transmission policies that encourage efficient balancing of electricity supply and demand across broad geographies; distributed generation policies that encourage integration of solar, storage, and other clean power solutions closer to electricity users; and energy efficiency policies and standards to reduce electricity waste.”
All of these initiatives mirror the general goals of COP26, thus making this a successful outcome of the conference.
This cooperation has been a result of President Biden response to the protectionism of the Trump Administration, which had threatened the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations. It is yet to be seen if the Biden Administration will effectively get China to contribute to the work being done to combat climate change.
Chinese President Xi Jinping offered no additional pledges in during the conference and encouraged leaders to “keep their promises and ‘strengthen mutual trust and cooperation.’” He did pledge earlier in the year, at the U.N. Assembly in September, that China would achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
Critics of this declaration say that it’s not enough to accomplish the goals of the Paris Agreement, they feel that there needs to be more commitment and action taken by these two countries. They do acknowledge that this prevents an even longer stalemate between the two nations regarding these issues, but it’s not the best the countries can offer. Additionally, other critics noted that the declaration pulled attention away for the success of COP26 negotiations between over 200 countries. This agreement came at time where the conference also made some large accomplishments regarding the Rulebook for the Paris Agreement. New guidelines on reporting a monitoring the effects of these commitments will help countries focus on meeting them. Critics are hopeful, however, that this symbolic change in attitude will lead to more agreements and more action in the future.
Spokesperson, O. o. (2021, November 10). U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Delactaion on Enhancing CLimate Action in the 2020s. Retrieved from U.S. Department of State: https://www.state.gov/u-s-china-joint-glasgow-declaration-on-enhancing-climate-action-in-the-2020s/
Spring, J., William, J., & Volcovici, V. (2021, Novemebr 11). U.S. and China unveil deal to ramp up cooperation on climate change. Retrieved from Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/china-us-make-joint-statement-cop26-climate-summit-2021-11-10/