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COP26: US, China to cooperate on climate in 2020s
Surprise joint declaration lays out sustainability commitments, plans for world’s two largest economies
The Asset 11 Nov 2021

The United States and China have declared in a unexpected joint statement at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) their intention to work jointly during this decisive decade, “in accordance with different national circumstances, to strengthen and accelerate climate action and cooperation, including accelerating green and low-carbon transition and climate technology innovations”.

Both nations' climate envoys – John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua – spoke at the conference to present their cooperation commitments and plans.

The two countries, the statement goes on to say, are intent on seizing this critical moment to engage in expanded individual and combined efforts to accelerate the transition to a global net-zero economy.

The world’s two biggest economies intend to cooperate on a range of issues, among them:
  • regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2020s
  • maximizing the societal benefits of the clean energy transition
  • policies to encourage decarbonization and electrification of end-use sectors
  • key areas related to the circular economy, such as green design and renewable resource utilization
  • deployment and application of technology, such as CCUS and direct air capture.

The countries also noted the significant role that emissions of methane play in increasing temperatures across the globe, and that they consider increased action to control and reduce such emissions as a matter of necessity in the 2020s.

To reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, the US and China will, more specifically, cooperate on:
  • Policies that support the effective integration of high shares of low-cost intermittent renewable energy
  • Transmission policies that encourage efficient balancing of electricity supply and demand across broad geographies
  • Distributed generation policies that encourage integration of solar, storage and other clean power solutions closer to electricity users
  • Energy efficiency policies and standards to reduce electricity waste.

As well, the US has set a goal to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, while China is committing to phasing down coal consumption during the 15th Five Year Plan and making best efforts to accelerate this work.

The two sides also intend to establish a Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, which will meet regularly to address the climate crisis and advance the multilateral process, focusing on enhancing concrete actions in this decade.

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Ying Bai
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