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US, China commit to climate cooperation

April 18, 2021

The joint statement follows a trip to Shanghai by US climate envoy John Kerry — the first official from the Biden administration to visit China.

Smoke and flames rising from a Chinese factory
US and China have agreed to co-operate on reducing carbon emissionsImage: Getty Images/K. Frayer

The US and China, the world's biggest carbon polluters, said on Saturday that they would work together urgently to fight climate change. 

"The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands," the countries said in a joint statement.

The statement follows a trip by US climate envoy John Kerry to Shanghai. Kerry is the first official from the Biden administration to visit China.

US presidential envoy for climate change, John Kerry
Kerry is the first official from the Biden administration to visit ChinaImage: Aurelien Morissard/imago images

The countries said that they would co-operate in "multilateral processes" like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, and "look forward" to a virtual climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden next week.

The US and China will also develop long-term strategies to become carbon neutral, in time for the UN climate summit in Glasgow, UK in November. China has already set an ambitious target to become carbon-neutral by 2060.

The two countries also plan to boost investment in green energy in developing nations, along with phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

US signals ambitious target, China unlikely to do so

The US is expected to announce an ambitious national target for lowering carbon emissions next week.

Meanwhile, China signaled that it was unlikely to declare any new targets at next week's virtual climate summit hosted by US president Biden.

"For a country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered. Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this is not very realistic," Le Yucheng, China's vice foreign minister told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that climate change "should not become a geopolitical chip, a target for attacking other countries or an excuse for trade barriers."

Kerry, before leaving for China, told US news channel CNN that the US would co-operate with China, despite recent criticism by the former of the latter's human rights abuses in Xinjiang and crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong.

am/mm (AP, AFP)