China and the United States announced a surprise plan to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the crucial next decade, in a strong push for the COP26 summit, as negotiators discussed a draft outcome.
The world’s two biggest emitters had been exchanging insults during the first week of the conference, but on Wednesday night they released a joint statement that would see the world’s two largest economies cooperate closely on the emission cuts that scientists they say they are needed in the next 10 years to stay. within 1.5C.
The notable change came as a surprise to the UK hosts and will send a strong signal to the more than 190 countries in the talks. China and the US will work together on some key specific areas, such as reducing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and emissions from transportation, energy and industry.
“Both sides recognize that there is a gap between the current effort and the goals of the Paris agreement, so we will jointly strengthen our efforts and cooperation in Paris … to accelerate a green and low-carbon transition,” said Xie Zhenhua, chief. from the delegation of China. “Climate change is becoming an increasingly urgent challenge. We hope this joint statement will help make Cop26 a success. “
John Kerry said: “The world’s two largest economies have agreed to work together on emissions in this decisive decade.
“This is a roadmap for our countries and future collaboration. China and the United States have no shortage of differences. But cooperation is the only way to do this job. It’s about science, it’s about physics. “
He said at the conference: “This declaration is a step we can build on to close the gap [between the emissions cuts set out so far and those needed]. Every step matters. We have a long journey ahead of us. “
Kerry likened cooperation with China to US agreements to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals in the cold war. “Sometimes you have to look beyond the differences to find the way forward.”
The United States-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Improving Climate Action in the 2020s came despite mounting political tensions between the two powers, which had been reflected in the climate talks. In his farewell to the conference, Joe Biden on Tuesday criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping for “not showing up.” After that, Xi hit the United States in an interview with The Guardian, saying: “We are not like some countries that withdrew from the Paris agreement after entering into talks.”
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, welcomed the agreement: “Addressing the climate crisis requires international cooperation and solidarity, and this is an important step in the right direction.”
The announcement followed a call from developing countries for rich nations to present more financial aid to vulnerable countries, saying that a new draft outcome for the talks was too weak in this regard.
The draft text, released early Wednesday morning by the UK as chair of the talks, sets out the likely outcome of the Cop26 talks, including a potential requirement for countries to return to the negotiating table next year. to reinforce their national plans for cuts. Emissions of greenhouse gases.
The text also made the scientific case for limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, and expressed “alarm” that emissions were much higher than the levels needed to stay within the thresholds. temperature safe.
But poor countries said the text needed more emphasis on climate finance, to help them reduce carbon and cope with the impacts of climate collapse.
Aubrey Webson, president of the Small Island States Alliance, which represents 37 of the countries most at risk, said: “The text provides a basis for moving forward, but must be strengthened in key areas to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable. , particularly in finance. We will not get the emissions ambition we need for 1.5 ° C if we do not expand the funding provision, and this includes the recognition of an additional and separate component for loss and damage, which was long overdue. “
He added that the language was too weak: “’Urge’, ‘call’, ‘encourage’ and ‘invite’ is not the decisive language that this moment requires. We have a limited time in the Police to do this well and send a clear message to our children and the most vulnerable communities that we listen to them and we are taking this crisis seriously. “
Bruce Bilimon, Minister of Health of the Marshall Islands, part of the High Ambition Coalition made up of developed and developing countries, added: “We need a comprehensive Glasgow package to build and strengthen trust between developed and developing states.”
Other developing countries told The Guardian that clearer commitments were needed to force countries to increase their emissions cuts.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a quick visit to Glasgow on Wednesday, where he warned delegates that failure to reach an effective deal would lead to a “huge” and well-deserved reaction from around the world.
Johnson called for “a determined push to get us out of the line,” saying some countries hadn’t done enough to get it done. Leaders who weren’t in Glasgow needed to “pick up the phone with their teams here and give them the room to negotiate, give them the space they need to maneuver and do this,” he said.
Johnson criticized, but did not name, some countries for “notoriously patting themselves on the back” for signing the Paris climate accord, but doing very little on Cop.
“The world will find it absolutely incomprehensible if we fail to comply [a good outcome]. And the reaction of the people will be immense and lasting and, frankly, we will deserve their criticism and their disgrace. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism