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China, US pledge joint efforts to combat climate change ahead of Xi-Biden summit

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China and the United States announced on Wednesday their commitment to intensified collaboration in the global fight against climate change, labeling the climate crisis as “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

The joint statement preceded a crucial summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in San Francisco, raising optimism for improved relations between the two nations amid longstanding discord over trade, human rights, and the future of Taiwan.

Following climate discussions in the United States, the leaders pledged to ensure the success of the upcoming UN climate summit in Dubai at the end of this month. They reaffirmed their dedication to the goals outlined in the 2015 Paris climate accord, aiming to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and actively striving to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Acknowledging the global impact of the climate crisis, the joint statement emphasized the shared commitment of the United States and China to address this pressing issue for the benefit of current and future generations. The meeting between US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, earlier this month in California, aimed to revitalize stalled cooperation, setting the stage for this joint announcement.

Experts underscore the immense collective effort required to achieve the Paris climate goals, particularly in the face of geopolitical tensions such as the China-United States rivalry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently emphasized the urgent need for “immediate reductions” in methane emissions to curb climate warming.

While China’s recent emission control plan lacked specific methane reduction targets, the joint statement outlined the commitment of both nations to develop respective targets for methane reduction as part of their 2035 emission-cutting plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

As the world faces the prospect of 2023 becoming the warmest year in recorded history, the success of the upcoming COP28 summit in Dubai hinges on cooperation between the United States and China. President Biden, addressing the anticipated talks with President Xi, emphasized the desire to enhance relations rather than decouple, expressing the aim of returning to normal diplomatic engagement for crisis management and military communication.

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