Cautious praise for US-China climate protection agreement

Status: 11.11.2021 4:03 p.m.

The announcement of climate cooperation between the USA and China met with a positive response, but also with reluctance. The negotiators hope this will give a boost to further talks at the climate conference.

The agreement between China and the USA announced at the World Climate Conference for more climate protection in the coming years has received cautious praise. “It can only be good that the US and China are working closely together on climate change and reducing methane gas emissions,” said Chatham House research director Bernice Lee.

Explanation still “not enough”

However, the joint declaration by the two countries is “not enough”. “The real test for Washington and Beijing is how hard they are pressing here in Glasgow for an agreement in line with the 1.5 degree target,” added Lee.

The day before, the two countries surprisingly announced a pact on climate protection and committed to jointly reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions. There was no concrete new reduction target by the year 2030 from the Chinese side. The world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters emphasize “the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis” and acknowledge that there is a “gap” between current efforts and the goals of the Paris Agreement. At the APEC summit in Wellington, New Zealand, China’s head of state Xi Jinping made an indirect statement about the agreement with the United States. “We can all get involved on the path to sustainable development with low carbon emissions,” he said. “Together we can pave the way to a greener future.”

Secretary of State for the Environment: “Good news”

Guterres also praised the agreement between the two countries as an “important step in the right direction”. The German Secretary of State for the Environment, Jochen Flasbarth, called it “good news”. “In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, a rapid race to catch up with climate protection is necessary in this decade,” he emphasized. “The necessary advances must come primarily from the largest emitters.”

At the same time, Flasbarth showed reluctance to evaluate the agreement. He expressed the hope “that China will now accept this responsibility and want to reduce its emissions more in cooperation with the USA”.

Timmermans: Agreement helps with negotiations

EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans told the AFP news agency that “it means a lot to the world if the US and China, with all the difficulties they have with each other on other issues, now signal that this issue extends beyond other issues”. The agreement helps create “the right atmosphere” in Glasgow for the final negotiations. However, the negotiators still have “a huge amount of work to do”.

Concern about the number of open points

This was also confirmed by the British COP26 President, Alok Sharma. He expressed “concern about the number of open points on financial issues the day before we are due to close”. When it comes to climate finance, the negotiators would find it difficult to reach agreement even on “a few routine technical issues”. “That, my friends, must no longer be the case today,” warned Sharma in the conference plenary.

Consultations until Friday

In Glasgow, until Friday, almost 200 countries are officially discussing the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, which provides for global warming to be limited to well below two, if possible 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial age. Even if all national climate protection targets are implemented, the earth is currently heading for a warming of 2.7 degrees, according to UN information.

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