China and the United States have committed to expediting their actions in combating climate change in anticipation of an important U.N. conference on the matter. They have promised to take measures to decrease the release of methane and other harmful gases, in addition to carbon dioxide.
On the day before a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, a joint statement was made in hopes of improving the tense relationship between the United States and China.
Collaboration between the top two producers of greenhouse gases is crucial for the effectiveness of the upcoming U.N. climate negotiations in Dubai. At the beginning of this year, it was uncertain if these two governments would work together due to strained relations concerning various matters such as technology, Taiwan, and Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
In a statement released on Wednesday in Beijing and Tuesday evening in Washington, both nations acknowledged their significant roles and pledged to collaborate in tackling one of the biggest challenges of our era.
The two countries, both members of the Group of 20, reaffirmed their commitment to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030. Chinese firms are seeking to export wind and solar power technology, after making significant investments in manufacturing facilities.
Lauri Myllyvirta, the lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, stated that collaborating to strengthen support for the target between the two countries will greatly facilitate its adoption.
The United States and China have reached an agreement to resume discussions on energy policies and form a working group to improve climate action during the pivotal decade of the 2020s. According to experts, immediate action is crucial in order to reach the target of keeping the average global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).
According to a climate specialist, the decision made by both nations to incorporate methane into their future climate action plans is a significant advancement.
“China’s prior pledge under the Paris Agreement, a 2015 climate treaty, did not include efforts to reduce methane,” stated David Waskow, the World Resources Institute’s international climate director. He emphasized that China is the top producer of methane and that taking significant measures to control this gas is crucial for slowing down the pace of global warming in the short-term.
The Chinese government recently released a plan to manage methane emissions, which involves creating a system for tracking and reporting these emissions. Significant sources of methane include coal mines, oil and gas facilities, agricultural operations, landfills, and sewage treatment facilities.
According to Myllyvirta, the plan lacks specific goals for reducing emissions and it will be crucial to monitor progress in this area.
The United States and China, alongside the United Arab Emirates, announced plans to co-host a conference on methane and other greenhouse gases at the upcoming U.N. negotiations in Dubai.
Waskow was dissatisfied with the fact that the joint statement did not promise to gradually eliminate the use of fossil fuels. This was not unexpected, as China has been increasing its investments in wind and solar energy while also promoting the development of coal power plants, which are seen as a dependable source of energy during times of high demand.
Last week, the government stated its plans to start giving “capacity payments” in the coming year to coal power plant operators in order to ensure their continued operation and availability, despite a decrease in revenue due to the growing use of renewable energy for electricity production.
The statement issued by the United States and China expressed appreciation for collaboration on climate efforts among states, provinces, and cities. It also announced plans for a top-level gathering in the first six months of 2024 to further this cooperation.
Last month, Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, traveled to China for a week to advocate for collaboration on climate initiatives in various cities and provinces.
This report was contributed to by Associated Press researcher Yu Bing in Beijing.
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