U.S., China pledge to tackle climate change with 'urgency'

Context: The testimony of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, John Kerry, and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, is coming after Kerry took a last-minute trip to Asia ahead of President Joe Biden’s two-day climate summit, which begins Thursday. Although the statement did not include any specific new policy measures, it appeared to calm nerves among activists concerned that global efforts to combat climate change would suffer from the frosty relations between the two largest greenhouse gas emitters.

“Lots of details remain to be filled in, but this is a positive statement given the strained relationship. The promise to ‘step up climate action that is ambitious in the 2020s’ and come up with net-zero Glasgow plans are both useful steps forward. “” Alden Meyer tweeted, Senior Associate at Think Tank E3G.

The details: China also said it would ratify the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol to limit fluorocarbons, a move that experts say would cut emissions of the refrigerant, which could warm the planet by 0.5 ° C by the end of the century. Biden has instructed the State Department to prepare for ratification of this measure for approval by the Senate.

The nations also agreed to “maximize international investment and finance” to move to cleaner energy in developing countries, and to discuss “concrete measures” to curb emissions in this decade, such as increasing the use of renewable energies.

Background: Both nations are credited with driving the global momentum for the 2015 Paris Agreement when they announced a bilateral emissions deal ahead of these talks. Kerry and Xie alluded to their work in the run-up to the agreement in the new declaration, with the aim of convincing other countries at the climate negotiations in Glasgow in November to increase the ambitions of Goals that they set years ago under the Paris Pact.

Executive Director of the International Energy Agency Fatih Birol said in a tweet that he welcomed the new statement from the two countries. “This provides valuable input before the #LeadersClimateSummit on April 22nd and 23rd. @IEA The analysis shows that much stronger international cooperation is crucial to achieve the zero net targets. “

China last year promised to be carbon neutral by 2060, though it has provided few details on how it would achieve that goal, while Biden campaigned to achieve that mark in the US by 2050, while Paris promises its goal for 2030, known as the Nationally Set Contribution, at the time of the summit. Many familiar with the government’s deliberations believe the plan will see emissions reductions in the region of 50 percent below 2005 levels by the beginning of the next decade.

“The US-China declaration sets the tone. Climate change is a crisis. Their joint declaration should give momentum to the global climate process and other countries. The couple must come up with more ambitious plans ahead of the Earth Day summit,” said Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said in a tweet.

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