China and the US agree that stronger climate protection commitments are needed
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and US flags flutter in front of an American company building in Beijing
SHANGHAI / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China and the United States agree that stronger commitments to combat climate change should be put in place before a new round of international talks at the end of the year, the two countries said in a joint statement on Sunday.
The statement came after a meeting between Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart John Kerry in Shanghai on Thursday and Friday, the Chinese environment ministry said.
“The United States and China are determined to work with each other and with other countries to address the climate crisis,” said their joint statement. The two countries will continue to “discuss concrete measures in the 2020s to reduce emissions in order to keep the temperature limit adapted to the Paris Agreement within reach”.
Kerry arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday evening under strict COVID-19 protocols and was taken to a remote hotel that was not open to the public. He then traveled to Seoul.
His stay in Shanghai marked the first high-profile visit by a Biden government official to China since the new president took office and followed a controversial exchange between officials from both countries in Alaska in March.
The talks also mark a resumption of the climate dialogue between the two largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world. Bilateral discussions stalled during the tenure of Donald Trump, who withdrew from the 2015 Paris Agreement after claiming it wrongly penalized US companies.
The United States is expected to soon make a new pledge to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to regain the trust of foreign allies. Biden brought the United States back into the Paris Climate Agreement.
Li Shuo, chief climate advisor for environmental group Greenpeace, said China could soon respond to a new US pledge with its own, building on the “momentum” of the talks in Shanghai.
“The statement is, in my opinion, as positive as politics allows it: it sends a very clear message that on this particular issue (China and the United States) will work together. Before the Shanghai meetings, this was not a message that we had could accept, “said Li.
Biden will host a virtual summit for dozen of world leaders this week to discuss climate change and broadcast it live to the public. Global climate negotiations are planned for November 1st to 12th in Glasgow.
The statement said the two countries had also agreed to discuss specific emission reduction measures, including energy storage, carbon sequestration and hydrogen. They said they would take steps to maximize funding for developing countries to switch to low carbon energy sources.
The Paris Agreement encourages countries to make more ambitious climate commitments if they can. China has already promised to step up measures to meet its goal of becoming “climate neutral” by 2060.
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