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US and China come to a common ground despite strained ties

China and the United States agree that stronger pledges to fight climate change should be introduced before a new round of international talks at the end of the year, the two countries said in a joint statement on Sunday. After a bit of long-strained ties, the countries have committed to work together to urgently combat climate change despite rising tensions over Beijing’s assertive policies on Taiwan and the South China Sea and human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The statement came after a meeting between Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart, John Kerry, in Shanghai on Thursday and Friday, China’s environment ministry said.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperating and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis,” their joint statement said. The two countries will continue to discuss “concrete actions in the 2020s to reduce emissions aimed at keeping the Paris Agreement-aligned temperature limit within reach.”

John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, the climate envoys for the world’s two biggest economies, have vowed to co-operate. “Both countries recall their historic contribution to the development, adoption, signature, and entry into force of the Paris Agreement through their leadership and collaboration,” they said in a joint statement.

Li Shuo, the senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace East Asia, said the statement highlighted the commitment of both the US and China to work together to tackle the climate crisis. “It is a firm step towards cooperation amid great geopolitical challenges. The statement underlined the need for near term ambitious actions and will launch a process of continued G2 engagement on an existential issue of global interest,” he said.

The two countries had already committed to the Paris deal, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase this century to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels while pursuing the means to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.

The talks also mark a resumption of climate dialogue between the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters. Bilateral discussions ground to a halt during the administration of Donald Trump, who withdrew from the 2015 Paris agreement after claiming it unfairly punished US businesses.

The United States is expected soon to deliver a new pledge to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to win back trust from foreign allies. Biden brought the United States back into the Paris climate accord.

By Karishma Gwalani

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