US and China renew dialogue on climate ahead of COP28


November 17, 2023


US and China renew dialogue on climate ahead of COP28

China's President Xi Jinping (L) talks with U.S. President Joe Biden after meeting in Woodside, California. Photo: AFP

WASHINGTON DC: Barely two weeks before a major United Nations conference on climate change, the United States and China have announced new agreements to work together on greenhouse gas emission reductions and the rollout of renewable sources of energy.

The deal, announced Tuesday ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping in California, commits both countries to further efforts to displace fossil fuels as the world’s leading source of energy.

It also marks the resumption of a bilateral working group on climate issues that was sidelined last year.

A summary of the agreement released Tuesday by the State Department said the two countries intend “to sufficiently accelerate renewable energy deployment in their respective economies through 2030 from 2020 levels so as to accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation.”

The result, the agreement continued, will be “meaningful absolute power sector emission reduction, in this critical decade of the 2020s.”

The agreement was released as world leaders are preparing to meet in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November for a United Nations-sponsored climate conference known as COP28.

The annual gathering assesses progress being made toward a global effort to keep the increase in global average surface temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Greenhouse gas focus

In an important breakthrough, the agreement indicates that China is prepared to commit to reductions in its emissions of all greenhouse gases, which trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere, accelerating the rise in average global temperatures.

In the past, Beijing’s greenhouse gas reduction pledges have applied only to carbon dioxide, leaving out several much more potent sources of global warming, including methane and nitrous oxide.

The agreement does not set specific goals but commits both countries to negotiations meant to establish them.

The two countries also invited other world leaders to attend a Methane and Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases Summit as part of COP28.

China has previously declined to join the Global Methane Pledge, under which nearly 150 countries and multilateral organizations have agreed to try to work to rapidly reduce emissions of the gas.