China, US to Launch Working Group on Climate Cooperation

Wed Nov 15 2023
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SAN FRANCISCO: China and the United States will launch a working group on climate cooperation, both countries said on Wednesday, as the two sides work to enhance communication and mend strained relations with a leaders’ meeting in San Francisco.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will huddle on the sidelines of the APEC summit in California for their first encounter in a year as trade tensions, sanctions and the question of Taiwan have contributed to discord between the two countries.

Climate has long been seen as a potential area of mutual interest, with US and Chinese climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua meeting November 4-7 at the Sunnylands retreat in California to reinvigorate stalled cooperation.

A joint statement, published in Chinese state media and released by the US State Department, outlined the working group’s key focus areas: “energy transition, methane, circular economy and resource efficiency, low-carbon and sustainable provinces and cities, and deforestation.”

It will envision them “engage in dialogue and cooperation to accelerate concrete climate actions”, the statement said.

Both countries agreed to “work together and with other parties” to “rise up to one of the greatest challenges of our time for present and future generations of humankind”, their statement further said.

They will also restart “bilateral dialogues on energy policies and strategies” and intensifying policy exchanges related to energy-saving and carbon-reducing solutions.

Recognizing China as the largest emitter of methane globally, the U.S. and China are set to immediately initiate technical cooperation through a working group focused on methane reduction. Although China recently revealed a comprehensive plan to control methane emissions, it did not specify reduction targets.

However, the joint statement confirmed their intent to develop specific methane reduction actions and targets for inclusion in their 2035 emission-cutting plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Reaffirming their commitment to the 2015 Paris climate accord goals, the two nations aspire to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and strive to restrict the increase to 1.5 degrees. As the world braces for the COP28 summit in Dubai later this month, the success of global efforts to address climate change hinges significantly on a collaborative approach between the United States and China, the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitters.

President Biden, addressing the upcoming talks with President Xi, characterized the meeting as an opportunity to rectify strained relations and emphasized the aim of improving the overall relationship rather than pursuing decoupling.

He underscored the importance of restoring normal diplomatic communication channels, especially in times of crisis, to foster stability and cooperation between the two nations.

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