US, China release joint statement agreeing to work on climate crisis

Singapore: China and the United States will push for stronger international climate change reduction commitments by the end of the year in a show of solidarity that will put further pressure on Australia to take more action on emissions reduction.

In a substantial breakthrough after hostile negotiations between the foreign affairs arms of both countries in Alaska in March, the two governments will work together on developing carbon capture, energy storage and hydrogen targets, while also providing funding for developing countries to switch to greener energy sources.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” the joint statement from the two negotiators released on Sunday morning said.

US climate envoy John Kerry.

US climate envoy John Kerry. Credit:Bloomberg

US climate envoy John Kerry has spent the past four days in Shanghai locked in negotiations with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua. The two men know each other well and represent the first extended positive diplomatic contact between the two superpowers since the beginning of the Biden administration.

China’s President Xi Jinping separately met virtually with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. The European powers said they would work with China on implementing the Paris Agreement, enhance climate policy dialogue and cooperation in the area of green development.

Chinese state media reported Xi describing the mission as a “hard battle” for the world’s largest developing country.

China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua.

China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua. Credit:AFP

“The response to climate change is the common cause of humanity and the issue should not become a geopolitical bargaining chip, a means of attacking other nations or an excuse for imposing trade barriers,” he said.

Xi surprised China and the world by announcing a 2060 net-zero emissions target in September. The state-managed economy has now swung its weight behind developing renewable energy sources, adding record levels of wind and solar power. The use of coal-fired power is restricted and local authorities are being encouraged to shift away from the energy-intensive power source despite China having more than 250 GW of coal power plants under development. That level is more than the entire coal-fired capability of the United States, according to the Global Energy Monitor.

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