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US, China show rare agreement in climate change declaration

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 29: Youth climate activists protest outside the Standard Chartered HQ against financing of fossil fuel projects during Defund Climate Chaos global day of action targeting City of London's banking, insurance and investment companies in London, United Kingdom on October 29, 2021. Protesters demand an end to financing and insuring major fossil fuel and resource extraction projects by the financial institutions in the run-up to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which begins later this week. ( Wiktor Szymanowicz - Anadolu Agency )
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Nov 11, 2021 - 12:07 PM

ISTANBUL (AA) – The pressing climate crisis has brought together global rivals China and the US in rare unity, with both pledging to use multilateral processes to avoid catastrophic impacts of the changing climate.

The agreement was announced by China’s special envoy on climate Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart John Kerry on the sidelines of the UN climate conference in Scotland, which is set to wrap up Friday.

“The US and China are committed to pursuing such efforts, including by taking enhanced climate actions that raise ambition in the 2020s in the context of the Paris Agreement, with the aim of keeping the above temperature limit within reach and cooperating to identify and address related challenges and opportunities,” the US State Department said Wednesday night in a joint statement with Beijing.

It said the “US and China recall their firm commitment to work together and with other parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

The world’s top two economies are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide.

It came as a surprise to many, but experts had suggested climate, besides Afghanistan and Iran, was one of the areas where the interests of the world’s top two economies converge.

Beijing and Washington have been at loggerheads over COVID-19, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Uyghur human rights issue in Xinjiang. The climate deal appeared on Wednesday to be a rare example of unity.

Praising “significant efforts” being made around the world to address the climate crisis, the statement said: “There remains a significant gap between such efforts, including their aggregate effect, and those that need to be taken to achieve the goals of the (2015) Paris Agreement.”

“The two sides stress the vital importance of closing that gap as soon as possible, particularly through stepped-up efforts. They declare their intention to work individually, jointly, and with other countries during this decisive decade, in accordance with different national circumstances, to strengthen and accelerate climate action and cooperation aimed at closing the gap, including accelerating the green and low-carbon transition and climate technology innovation,” the statement said.

But some noted that the agreement had little in the way of details for how and when the actions would be taken.

At the Glasgow conference, Xie said: “Both sides will work jointly and with other parties to ensure a successful COP26 and to facilitate an outcome that is both ambitious and balanced.”

Kerry said the two countries “set out our support for a successful COP26, including certain elements which will promote ambition.”

“Every step matters right now, and we have a long journey ahead of us,” he added.

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