Wednesday’s announcement that China and the United States have agreed to collaborate more closely on climate action was hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as an important step in the right direction.
News of the joint declaration between the two countries, both major emitters of greenhouse gases, came late in the evening in Glasgow, where the 2021 UN climate conference, COP26, has been under way since last week.
The statement refers to the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which described the urgent need to tackle the climate emergency in alarming detail, and states that both countries recognize the seriousness of the crisis, whilst accepting the significant gaps that remain, between efforts currently being made to tackle it, and the steps that are needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, reached at COP21 in 2015.
In Paris, leaders pledged to try to keep the world from warming by more than between 1.5C to 2C through sweeping emissions cuts.
According to press reports, elements of collaboration outlined in the document include regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2020s policies to encourage decarbonization and electrification of end-use sectors and increased action to control and reduce methane emissions.
In his tweet, António Guterres welcomed the agreement by China and the US to work together to take more ambitious climate action in this decade, and noted that the crisis requires international collaboration and solidarity.
Following the surprise announcement, the top climate envoys of both countries held back-to-back news conferences at COP26.
“There is more agreement between the US and China than divergence, making it an area ofhuge potential for cooperation,” China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said, adding that: “By working together our two countries can achieve many important things that are beneficial not only to our two countries but the world as a whole.”
Up next, US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry said he was “pleased” about the agreement between the two countries and added: “Every step matters right now, and we have a long journey ahead of us.”