US, China pledge to work together to tackle escalating climate change catastrophe

climate change COP26 u.s. china

The U.S. and China have vowed to tackle the escalating climate change problem in a joint statement released during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, also referred to as COP26 (Conference of Parties), in Scotland on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The news was announced by U.S. climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, at the event on Wednesday at a separate news conference, according to NBC News.

  • The U.S. and China have vowed to work together to address the problem of deforestation and methane, with the latter being a greenhouse gas that is stronger than carbon dioxide at keeping heat in the atmosphere, as explained in their joint statement. The two countries, which have the world’s largest economies, also plan to maintain the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which member countries pledged to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • Although China’s leader Xi Jinping did not show up at the summit, Kerry said that he had constructive conversations with other Chinese officials about the problem and that the “door is not shut at this point in time.”
  • “I really think what’s critical is to be summoning everybody’s willpower to step further, to do more than they thought was possible,” Kerry said.
  • According to the statement, the U.S. aims to “reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035,” while China plans to “phase down coal consumption during the 15th Five Year Plan and make best efforts to accelerate this work.”
  • “Both sides recognize that there is a gap between the current effort and the Paris Agreement goals so we will jointly strengthen climate action,” Xie Zhenhua said, Al Jazeera reported.

We are experiencing it: Thousands of scientists have warned that Earth is now facing a “climate emergency” as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and bring forth “increasingly damaging effects,” according to the Alliance of World Scientists (AWS). The group’s short article on climate change, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” was signed by more than 14,500 scientists from 158 countries.

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  • “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected,” the group warned. “It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
  • “As scientists, we urge widespread use of our vital signs and anticipate that graphical indicators will better allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities to alleviate climate change,” the AWS added.
  • The U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) suggested that to stop the planet from warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit), countries must lessen their emissions, including methane, by 7.6% every year up until 2030.
  • “Increased commitments can take many forms but overall they must serve to shift countries and economies onto a path of decarbonization, setting targets for net-zero carbon, and timelines of how to reach that target,” the UNEP said.

Featured Image via Getty

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