China, US commit to climate cooperation amid strained ties
Published: Apr 18, 2021 07:54 AM Updated: Apr 18, 2021 12:44 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

China and the US are "committed to working together" on the issue of climate change, and will cooperate on multilateral fronts including the Paris Agreement, said a joint statement issued on Sunday between the two sides following US climate envoy John Kerry's visit to Shanghai. 

"China and the US, together with other countries, are committed to cooperating with each other on tackling the climate crisis, to be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands. This includes strengthening their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral fronts such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement," said the statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment. 

In particular, it stressed the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The two sides pledged to strengthen their efforts and together tackle the challenges to realize the principles outlined in the Agreement to control the global average temperature rise below 2C, and strive to limit it to 1.5C. 

The two countries will continue to discuss, both at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held in UK's Glasgow and beyond, concrete actions in the 2020s to reduce emissions to keep the temperature limit aligned by the Paris Agreement within reach. 

They include cooperation on renewable energy, green and climate-resilient agriculture, low-carbon transportation, and emissions of methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases. 

The statement also listed a number of short-term actions that will be carried out to address the climate crisis. 

Some future cooperation potentials on several international meetings are mentioned in the statement, including the COP 26 aimed at completing the arrangements for the Paris Agreement, and the COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province. 

The statement was issued right after talks between Xie Zhenhua, China's special envoy for climate change, and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during his visit to Shanghai from Wednesday to Saturday, which came ahead of US President Joe Biden's virtual summit with world leaders on climate change next week.

During an exclusive interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng welcomed the US' return on international climate affairs under the Biden administration but urged it "to redouble its efforts to make up for the time lost during its absence" when Trump withdrew from the Paris accord during his term.

Le reiterated China's goals to peak its carbon dioxide emission by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. 

"But for a big developing country with 1.4 billion people, these are no easy tasks. Some countries are asking China to fast forward the process. That, I am afraid, is not very realistic," added Le, comparing the stages on climate response in China and those in the US is like comparing students still in primary school with those already in middle school. "It is against the natural course of things if you ask these two groups of students to graduate at the same time."