Despite other issues and conflicts between the two Superpowers, the US and China have agreed to cooperate on climate change.
In a joint statement from the State Department and China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters “committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries” to tackle the issue.
The statement comes ahead of President Joe Biden’s summit of world leaders that will address the climate issue later this week. The agreement between Washington and Beijing was reached by John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua during two days of talks in Shanghai last week, the statement said.
The United States and China are “to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” it added.
According to NBC News, the statment also said that the two rival nations agreed to discuss specific emission reduction actions to decarbonize industry and power, including energy storage, carbon capture, and green hydrogen, as well as increasing use of renewable energy, reducing emissions from coal, oil, and gas, and addressing emissions from international aviation.
Climate Is a Key Issue for the Biden Administration
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, with the US a close second. President Biden made climate one of his key commitments in last year’s election campaign, pledging that the US will achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050.
He rejoined the 2015 Paris climate accord, a global pact to curb emissions, on the first day of his presidency. His predecessor Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2017.
“Unfortunately, the U.S. became a renegade in the last four years under the non-leadership of President Trump,” Kerry told British broadcaster Sky News in an interview conducted before the talks. “But we are now back and present with a very aggressive series of initiates in order to try to make up for lost time.”
Despite the agreement to cooperate on climate change, tensions between the two nations remain high. China and the US have been feuding lately over several geopolitical issues including Hong Kong, the treatment of the Uighur community, and the future of Taiwan.
Kerry told reporters in Seoul on Sunday that the language in the joint statement is “strong” and that the two countries agreed on “critical elements on where we have to go,” the Associated Press reported.
But the former secretary of state added, “I learned in diplomacy that you don’t put your back on the words, you put on actions. We all need to see what happens.”
Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to his climate summit this week, as the world is gearing up for global climate talks in Glasgow, U.K., in November.