US and China pledge cooperation to tackle climate crisis after talks in California

The United States and China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, will back a new global renewables target and work together to tackle methane and plastic pollution, said the two countries in a joint statement following talks in California. The statement follows a meeting last week to find common ground ahead of COP28 talks in Dubai later this month. 

Sunnylands Statement

American climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua have agreed to revive a bilateral climate working group following meetings in Sunnylands, California between November 4 and 7, which will discuss areas of cooperation between the two countries. 

The working group, according to the Sunnylands statement, will focus on several areas of cooperation, including “circular economy and resource efficiency, low-carbon and sustainable provinces/states & cities, and deforestation”. 

The two countries also said that they would step up coordination on curbing emissions of methane – climate-warming greenhouse gas – which Beijing is said to be the biggest producer of with over 14 per cent of global emissions. 

The US and China will also work together to ramp up efforts to transition away from fossil fuels and exchange information on policies and technologies to reduce emissions. 

The relaunch of the working group also marks the normalisation of the climate relationship between China and the US after a hiatus triggered by the visit of former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as its territory. 

Agreement ahead of COP28

“The Sunnylands statement is a timely effort of aligning the United States and China ahead of COP28,” said Li Shuo, incoming director of the China Climate Hub at the Asia Society, as quoted by Reuters. 

Li described the relationship between the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters as “a precondition for meaningful global progress” and said the Sunnylands agreement will help “stabilise the politics” ahead of Dubai talks.

The 28th meeting of the United Nations “Conference of the Parties” on climate, also known as COP28, is set to take place from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

China – which ranks as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide – will be in sharp focus at the upcoming conference as it has sought to lower carbon emissions but recently approved new coal-fired power plants in a bid to ensure energy security.

(With inputs from agencies)

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