US-China climate pledge at COP26 gets cautious welcome
- US and China made a joint vow to fight climate change at COP26
- The countries have agreed to fight temperature rise above 1.5 degrees C
- UN and European Union hailed the move, green activists have called for caution
United States and China, two of the world’s biggest economies and greenhouse gas emitters, have vowed on Wednesday to come together in efforts to combat climate change at COP26, the United Nations climate change conference, underway in Glasgow, Scotland. The declaration, which came as a surprise for many political observers, is aimed at jointly working towards limiting global temperature rise above 1.5°C, the limit set out in the Paris Agreement.
While the United Nations, the European Union and other nations were quick to hail the move which signals a major transformation in geopolitical relations between these two major economies, global environmental group Greenpeace has warned against hope.
The announcement of a joint bid to combat climate change comes ahead of a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden next week. Biden and Xi are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting.
On Wednesday, US director of climate policy action Genevieve Maricle read out the declaration which said, “This announcement comes at a critical moment at COP26 and offers new hope that, with the support and backing of two of the world’s most critical voices, we may be able to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees.”
“But we must also be clear eyed about what is still required if the two countries are to deliver the emission reductions necessary in the next nine years. 1.5C-alignment will require a whole-of-economy response,” Maricle said.
The pledge was hailed by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres who said the announcement was an “important step in the right direction”. Frans Timmermans, climate policy head of the European Union, said, the pledge shows that the US and China know that the subject of climate change transcends other issues.
On the other hand, Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan warned against false home. Morgan said both countries need to show greater commitment to reaching climate goals. Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister who is the president of Asia Society which works on global climate change agreements, told the BBC that the agreement was not a “gamechanger” but was a big step forward.