On Oct. 11, China and the United States issued the “China-U.S. Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s” during the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties. Both sides expressed appreciation for the work undertaken to date and pledged to continue to work together and with all parties to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In the current, increasingly serious climate change crisis, countries around the world are generally aware that cooperation is the right choice for dealing with the situation. China and the U.S. working together is the right way to solve the problem of climate change, helping to fully produce a consensus on reducing emissions and revitalizing the international community’s aspirations in dealingl with climate change.
The joint declaration focuses on more pragmatic goals and cooperation, and clearly indicates that intensified action should is needed to respond effectively to the climate crisis based on the principles of common yet diverse responsibilities and capabilities, and taking into account the circumstances in each country. The two sides agreed to establish a “Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s” to promote cooperation and multilateral process on climate change and other strategies such as strengthening cooperation in building international regulatory frameworks, green and low-carbon transition, and innovation in climate technology.
China and the United States have already worked together productively in the area of climate change, having issued three joint statements that played a significant, constructive role in creating the landmark Paris Agreement and that were an important step in global efforts to address climate change. However, the previous U.S. administration’s arbitrary withdrawal from the Paris Agreement seriously affected how global climate change measures are governed and how the agreement will be implemented. Now the U.S. is back on a collaborative path with respect to climate change issues. China joins the international community in welcoming the U.S. back and hopes it will catch up and work together with us to fully and effectively implement the Paris Agreement.
China has always attached great importance to dealing with climate change, actively participating in and leading international cooperation in tackling the problem, promoting the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, and providing substantial help and support with respect to climate change to developing countries under the framework of “South-South cooperation.”* At the same time, China has taken the initiative to overcome its own economic and social difficulties, resolutely followed a green, low-carbon path of development and implemented a national strategy to proactively address climate change. China has exceeded the 2020 carbon emission reduction target it promised the international community it would meet, and has added its power to the process of promoting global climate governance and tackling climate change.
Future climate cooperation between China and the U.S. will proceed, but some things still urgently need to be clarified. China is currently striving to achieve its large carbon emission reduction target within the shortest possible time frame, but some among the American and Western public selectively overlook China’s achievements in emission reductions to date and completely “forget” the important historical fact that the industrialization process of developed countries has led to substantial carbon emissions. The U.S and the West invariably criticize and put pressure on China, demanding it take on more responsibility than it has already promised. It is this selfish “emission reduction” perspective that has repeatedly created obstacles to global cooperation in addressing climate change. The deep-rooted Cold War mindset of certain U.S. political leaders has also obstructed cooperation between the U.S and China on climate issues, and has eroded the political foundation for cooperation between the two sides.
Climate change is a common challenge faced by all mankind. It is not merely an emergency that needs to be addressed, but a matter involving society’s future. Cooperation between China and the U.S. will produce many significant benefits for both countries and for the world, as China and the United States have considerable interests in common and the latitude for cooperation when it comes to tackling climate change. We hope the U.S. will take COP26 and the Joint Declaration as an opportunity to focus on the long-term interests of society and work together with China to address the current political microclimate that is currently interfering with how the two nations can work together and lead the response to a global climate that is getting increasingly hotter. That will benefit the people of both countries and the whole world.
*Translator’s note: According to the United Nations, “South-South cooperation” refers to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South.