Scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
- To combat climate change and curb the rising global earth temperature to 1.5 °C, US President Biden invited a group of 40 world leaders to attend a World Climate Summit.
- US and China set aside differences and agreed to cooperate on the climate crisis with urgency.
- Washington’s Climate Change envoy John Kerry on his visit to Asia met with Beijing’s special envoy for climate change, Xie Zhenhua to discuss the way forward on the climate crisis.
- President Biden made a bold commitment wherein the US would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52%, lowering to that of pre-industrial levels.
- Biden hopes that the world’s other great carbon emitters will follow suit.
US President, Joe Biden invited 40 world leaders to attend a World Climate Summit held on April 22-23, 2021 to combat climate change. Ever since taking over as US President, Biden has sent out a strong message, that the US would be at the forefront in dealing with climate change related challenges. During his address at the Summit, US President also dubbed this decade as decisive.
Under the Trump Administration, the US had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, while one of Biden’s first steps was getting the US to re-join the Paris Agreement, and he has also made a commitment of 1.2 Billion USD to a Green Climate Fund. Another important component of Biden’s climate change agenda includes an infrastructural package, which seeks to invest in clean energy transition. The Biden Administration has also been laying emphasis on creating clean energy jobs, and greater investment in Research and Development related to clean energy.
Watch: US-China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency
US-China Scope for Cooperation
While ties between the US and China have witnessed a serious deterioration in recent weeks, Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the Climate Change Summit. Days before the Climate Summit, Xi while addressing the Boao Forum at Hainan was critical of the US for promoting cold war mentality, but did clearly leave the door open for cooperation with the US. In spite of the downward spiral in bilateral relations, Biden and members of his administration have repeatedly stated, that there is room for cooperation with China in climate change. Biden’s Climate Change envoy John Kerry had undertaken a visit to Asia, and during his China visit exchanged notes with China’s special envoy for climate change, Xie Zhenhua.
‘The United 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’U.S. Climate Change Envoy John Kerry & CCP Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua
The invitation to Xi was extended during Kerry’s visit, though China did not give any confirmation. Xi only gave his confirmation to attend the Summit one day before.
Agenda of the Summit
During the summit, the US president made a commitment, that the US would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%-52%, below its 2005 emissions levels, by 2030. Former US President Barack Obama had made a commitment to reducing emissions by 26-28%. Biden’s announcement is viewed as a stark departure from Trump’s and is likely to face opposition from a number of quarters.
Before the Summit, China had made it clear, that it would not toe the US line.
Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this is not very realistic.Chinese Foreign Minister, Le Yusheng
During the Summit, Xi Jinping stated that China would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and to peak carbon emissions by 2030. He reiterated the need for global cooperation. What was interesting was that both Biden and Xi Jinping also linked the climate goals to their economic goals. While Xi Jinping spoke about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has often been criticized for its lack of transparency and not being environment friendly. In fact many observers have argued that Biden’s infrastructural plan is a counter to China’s BRI.
Biden has repeatedly spoken about creating clean jobs and infrastructure and repeated the same during his address. Interestingly, it is not just China but even a number of other countries have opposed it. While Washington-Beijing ties are likely to face numerous strains climate change seems to be one area where there is space for cooperation.