Kerry Announces New Pact That Will Give U.S. Technology To China
Climate envoy John Kerry announced Wednesday that the United States and China have agreed to “raise climate ambition” and work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, although the outlined agreement contained few details about actions China will take.
Kerry presented the joint declaration as a big development over a statement both governments agreed to in April.
Since then, some in the administration, including President Joe Biden, have been publicly critical of China for not committing to more ambitious emissions reductions.
“The U.S. and China have no shortage of differences, but on climate, cooperation is the only way to get things done,” Kerry said during a press conference at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.
The agreement commits the governments of the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters to cooperate on developing regulatory frameworks for reducing emissions, “maximizing the societal benefits of the clean energy transition,” and encouraging decarbonization and electrification of the economy.
It also recognizes the importance of cutting methane emissions, something the Biden administration and a host of other governments have committed to doing in the form of at least a 30% reduction by 2030.
Kerry said China agreed to develop a “comprehensive national action plan” on methane emissions by the next U.N. climate conference, which is scheduled for November 2022.
As part of the declaration, China also committed to phasing down coal consumption during its 15th Five Year Plan, which spans 2026 to 2030, and to “make best efforts to accelerate this work.” Commitments were also made to work together on developing emissions-reducing technologies.
Still, the statement notably lacks new commitments by the Chinese to move up China’s targets of reaching peak emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2060, as well as other key definite commitments.
“This is the biggest load of horses*** that I’ve ever seen,” said George David Banks, former international energy adviser in the Trump administration. “The administration has just given China cover not to cap its emissions before the end of the decade.”
“Out of this cooperation, we expect acceleration in the rate of reduction [of emissions],” Kerry said. “And the only way you get there is by sharing technology, working together, sharing climate technology.”
The agreement follows months of talks and more than 30 meetings between Kerry’s office and that of his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, which were conducted under strained diplomatic conditions as top officials in both countries took jabs at one another.
Biden as recently as last week criticized the country for failing to address its emissions, saying China and Russia have “walked away” after the presidents of both nations declined to attend the conference in Glasgow.
“How do you do that and claim to have any leadership mantle?” Biden said.
The administration nevertheless touted Wednesday’s statement as some measure of improvement on the issue.
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