COP26: Unexpected US-China agreement to boost climate cooperation

China and the US are the world’s two biggest polluters

11 November 2021

The United States and China jointly pledged to work together in order to accelerate cooperation on climate action in the next 10 years. The surprise announcement from the world’s two biggest polluters was made on Wednesday at the COP26 and was the result of more than 30 virtual meetings over the course of the last 30 months.

“This document contains strong statements about the alarming science, the emissions gap, and the urgent need to accelerate action to close that gap. It commits to a series of important actions now this decade when it is needed” said John Kerry, the US special envoy. According to his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, the agreement would involve “concrete and pragmatic regulations in decarbonization, reducing methane emissions and fighting deforestation.”

Both sides also agreed to establish a bilateral working group that will  “meet regularly to address the climate crisis and advance the multilateral process, focusing on enhancing concrete actions”. Another big step forward is the commitment made by the two powers to update their new national climate targets for 2035 in 2025.

China and the US are responsible for more than 40% of global carbon emissions. China overtook the US and became the world’s biggest polluter in 2006 and now accounts for around 28% of the world’s emissions, with coal representing almost 50% of its total installed capacity in 2020