A group of high-level delegates from the U.S. and China joined together in Beijing on April 25 and 26 for a dialogue to identify opportunities that address some of the most pressing climate change issues and to deepen collaboration. Delegates discussed topics including power sector decarbonization, methane, energy efficiency, carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), trade, corporate disclosures and climate finance.

Why the US-China Dialogue Matters

The United States and China have a long-standing history of joint global leadership on climate change; however, the relationship between the two countries has been inconsistent and particularly challenging in recent years.

Despite announcements in 2021 and 2023 of intentions to work together, it has been difficult for both countries’ central governments to meet in an official capacity. This dialogue, which is convened under the Chatham House rule to foster more open exchange, has been ongoing since 2015, and provides a trusted space for U.S. and Chinese experts to work through difficult climate-related conversations.

As the two largest economies and the two largest emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is imperative for the U.S. and China to continue to make joint progress on climate change and provide leadership that will encourage action from the rest of the world. Without commitments from the U.S. and China, there will be less willingness from other nations to commit to and implement GHG reductions.

What Was Discussed at the Dialogue?

Delegates identified many areas for future collaboration including:

  • Increasing joint efforts on scientific research in areas such as the impact of vehicle-to-grid integration and the systemic nature of methane emissions, looking more closely at natural sources and atmospheric chemistry.
  • Improving methane reporting methods, including implementing mandatory reporting systems, creating better inventories, and facilitating dialogue between research institutions in both countries.
  • Support of clean tech research, development and deployment, including through aligning climate finance and knowledge sharing for emissions reduction technology achievements.
  • Strengthening cooperation in climate finance infrastructure, such as on standards for climate finance and carbon accounting methods for financial institutions.
  • Joint research and development on building energy efficiency retrofitting and technological advancement in CCUS.
  • Working on interoperable standards for measuring embedded GHG emissions measurement in products.

There were also areas where delegates from the two countries did not see eye-to-eye, including whether China would join the ranks of donor countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, how ambitious China’s next nationally determined contribution (NDC) commitments would be, and whether any NDC created by the U.S. this year would survive if a new administration enters the White House in 2025.

The closing session was dedicated to understanding the two countries’ primary concerns, looking forward to the next two UN Climate Change Conferences (COP29 and COP30).

A more comprehensive summary of the dialogue and briefing papers are available for download at the bottom of the page. These documents provide an in-depth look at the current state of U.S. and China affairs related to the topics covered in the dialogue and provide expert analysis of the achievements, challenges and plans in each country.

What’s Next for US and China Climate Cooperation?

Moving forward, dialogue delegates will continue to come together in a range of fora including engagement of high-ranking government officials, subnational efforts, expert working groups under the Sunnylands Agreement and working groups established under the purview of the dialogue.

For more information, visit our webpage and contact Briana Fowler-Puja.

Briefing Papers