China and the United States, the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have announced a plan to cooperate on cutting emissions over the next decade, seeking to close “a gap between the current effort and the Paris agreement goals.” The surprise announcement was made at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
In the China-US Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in 2020s, the world’s top two emitters pledge to work together on reducing carbon emissions from transport, energy, and industry, as well as controlling and cutting methane emissions.
The cooperation will include policies to boost the share of renewables.
The cooperation will include policies that support the effective integration of high shares of low-cost renewable energy, and those which encourage the integration of solar, energy storage, and other clean power solutions closer to electricity users.
The US has set a goal to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, according to the text of the declaration. At the same time, China “will phase down coal consumption […] and make best efforts to accelerate this work,” reads the document.
Leaders and experts have mainly welcomed the declaration
The announcement was welcomed by world leaders as well as experts. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described the move as “an important step in the right direction,” noting that “tackling the climate crisis requires international cooperation and solidarity.”
Frans Timmermans, the European Commission Executive Vice-President responsible for climate action, said the China-US deal could help reach an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26.
Greenpeace says the declaration falls short of the call for increasing climate goals every year.
Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan also welcomed the announcement, but said that the statement “falls short of the call by the climate vulnerable countries demanding that nations come back to the table every year with greater ambition until the 1.5C gap is closed.”
Also, China and the US did not endorse the United Kingdom’s proposal to update national emission reduction plans by the end of 2022. According to the text of the declaration, both countries intend to announce their 2035 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in 2025.
UNEP: the fresh pledges at COP26 unlikely to avert the 2.7C scenario
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that the new emissions cut pledges made during COP26 are unlikely to help avert the scenario in which the average global temperature would rise by 2.7C by the end of the century, mainly because the most ambitious emissions cuts are envisaged after 2030.
Draft COP26 agreement calls for “meaningful and effective action” in “this critical decade”
Meanwhile, the UK presidency of COP26 has published a draft of an agreement that should be adopted by all participants at the end of the climate summit. The text of the document stresses that this decade is “critical” for limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5C.
“This requires meaningful and effective action by all Parties in this critical decade on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge,” reads the document, which has yet to be agreed by the nations taking part in COP26.