Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Beijing, Washington ink joint climate declaration

Beijing, Washington ink joint climate declaration

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Xie Zhenhua, China's special climate envoy, announces that Beijing and Washington have signed a joint declaration to address the global climate crisis during the next decade. AFP

Beijing, Washington ink joint climate declaration

China and the US have signed a joint declaration to address the global climate crisis during the next decade, marking one of the most significant breakthroughs yet to come out of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

The declaration, which is called the US-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, was announced on the evening of November 10 by China's special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, and US special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry.

The move took many onlookers in Glasgow by surprise, with the media alerted to a joint news conference just an hour before it started. Several world leaders have labelled this year's COP as the most important since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, and a Sino-US declaration is sure to send a strong signal to all delegations in attendance.

Xie said the problem of global warming is "increasingly urgent and severe" and that climate change threatens an "existential crisis".

"In the area of climate change, there is more agreement between the US and China than divergence, making it an area with huge potential for our cooperation," Xie said. "As two major powers, both China and the US shoulder international responsibilities and obligations. We need to think big."

Kerry said the current time represents a "critical decade" in the fight to combat global warming.

"The US and China have no shortage of differences, but on climate, cooperation is the only way to get things done," Kerry said. "We cannot reach our goals without countries working together, and China and the US in particular, as the two largest emitters in the world, both have to help show the way."

In the joint declaration, both sides reaffirmed their commitment under the Paris Agreement to "hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C".

The two countries also agreed to cooperate closely during the next 10 years on a range of climate-related issues, including methane emissions, fossil fuel reduction, and clean energy technologies.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres called the declaration an "important step in the right direction".

"I welcome today's agreement between China and the US to work together to take more ambitious climate action in this decade," Guterres said on Twitter. "Tackling the climate crisis requires international collaboration and solidarity."

European Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans said on Twitter that bilateral cooperation between China and the US "should boost negotiations at COP26".

China and the US said they intend to establish a Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, which will meet regularly to "address the climate crisis and advance the multilateral process, focusing on enhancing concrete actions in this decade".

In the declaration, the US cited domestic targets to reduce methane emissions, and China announced its own plans for a "comprehensive and ambitious National Action Plan on methane", aiming to achieve significant emissions control and reductions in the 2020s.

Also on November 10, COP26 president Alok Sharma published a first draft of the proposed Glasgow agreement, which parties will aim to reach at this year's conference, after further negotiations.

The draft called on countries to accelerate the phasing out of both coal and fossil fuel subsidies, neither of which has been mentioned in previous COP agreements. The document also included stronger language on the warming target of 2 to 1.5 degrees, which was set in Paris six years ago.

The draft "recognises that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to 2 degrees, and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees".

Wang Yi, a senior scientific adviser in China's delegation at COP26, told China Daily on November 10 that adjusting this target could have a disruptive knock-on effect.

"If we decrease the indicator, the target, to 1.5 only, that means we must change the whole Paris Agreement," Wang said.

Last week special climate envoy Xie said it is important to honour what was decided on in Paris, calling the agreement "science-based, rule-based, inclusive and realistic".

Sharma said that the draft is not offering decisive language on the target.

"I also want to be clear we are not seeking to reopen the Paris Agreement," Sharma said on November 10. "The Paris Agreement clearly sets out the temperature goal well below 2C and pursuing efforts towards 1.5C."



  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,