By Holly Giles | Deputy Editor
It was announced this week that China and the United States, the two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, are going to work together to tackle climate change. This is to be achieved through agreements of specific actions to be taken by the two countries to reduce emissions in a joint attempt to reduce the progression of climate change.
The agreement was finalised during two days of meetings in Shanghai, which was concluded with the statement:
“The Unites 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”.
This sentiment is continued through the virtual climate summit which is to be held by US President Joe Biden this week. Statements from China have said it is looking forward to the summit but it is not yet known if Chinese leaders will be attending.
President Biden’s climate olive branch to China is in stark contrast with the previous president, Donald Trump’s views on climate change who has described it as “mythical”, “nonexistent” and “an expensive hoax” in past interviews. During Trump’s time in office the United States were withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement and it has been estimated that the Trump administration took more than 130 steps to scale back measures to fight climate change.
This is now being reversed through the Biden administration who reinstated the United States into the Paris climate agreement just hours after being sworn in as president, showing it is a high priority to the administration. Biden has previously called climate change the “greatest threat” to the country, meaning more climate action can be expected throughout his time in office. This collaboration with China is one of these significant steps in the President’s commitment to tackling climate change.
Reflecting on this agreement Li Shiom, senior climate adviser for Greenpeace, described the move as “positive” and that “it sends a very unequivocal message that on this particular issue (China and the United States) will cooperate. Before the meeting in Shanghai this was not a message that we could assume”.
This was echoed in the statement by John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, who said: “I think this is the first time, China has joined in saying it’s a crisis. The language is very strong… you can see we agreed on critical elements of where we have to go”.
The details of the agreement will continue to be discussed but this partnership marks a key turning point in the fight against climate change with two of the biggest emitters reinstating their support for the cause. It is hoped this will lead to key changes in our emission rates and ultimately, global warming.