WASHINGTON (November 15, 2023) - On November 14, the United States and China issued a joint statement “on enhancing cooperation to address the climate crisis.” The announcement comes shortly before President Biden and President Xi are to meet on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and weeks before the start of the COP28 negotiations. 

Following is a reaction quote from David Waskow, International Climate Director, World Resources Institute: 

“This statement confirms that the United States and China have restarted their collective efforts to combat the climate crisis after a months-long hiatus. It fortunately comes as representatives from 200 countries around the world are just about to converge at the UN climate negotiations in Dubai. As the two largest emitters in the world, the United States and China have a unique responsibility to accelerate climate action at home and bring all countries together to find common ground.  

“The most striking part of the statement is the two countries’ commitment to include all greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, in their next national climate plans. Methane has been notably absent from China’s previous commitment under the Paris Agreement. This announcement is a major step because China is the world’s largest methane emitter and serious actions to curb this gas is essential for slowing global warming in the near-term.  

“It is helpful that the statement reiterates the G20 Leaders’ pledge to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, which now needs to be reflected in a clear commitment in the final COP28 outcome. But it is disappointing that the two nations said nothing about the need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels this decade, which will be a central issue at the COP28 summit.  

“The only specific target in the statement is for each country to advance five large-scale carbon capture projects by the end of the decade. While carbon capture technology is likely necessary to decarbonize some industrial processes like producing cement, it will make up just a sliver of the total emission reductions needed to keep our climate goals within reach. At COP28, it is important that negotiators clearly articulate the limited role that carbon capture technology will play in tackling the climate crisis. 

“Helpfully, the two countries have committed to hosting a methane and non-CO2 gases summit at COP28 and a bilateral summit on subnational cooperation next year. This demonstrates the governments’ ability to collaborate to boost climate action.”