china and the united states, the world’s top two carbon polluters jointly pledged wednesday, 10 november, to work together to accelerate the emissions reductions required to meet the temperature goals of the 2015 paris agreement on climate change. china agreed for the first time to crack down on methane leaks and both countries agreed to share technology to reduce emissions. in a joint declaration, both countries expressed ‘alarm’ by scientific reports detailing the progress of what they both term the climate crisis.
critics say this declaration is a step in the right direction but was short on commitments that would significantly reduce heat-trapping gases. both countries called for accelerating the phasing out of coal and fossil fuels – the biggest source of man-made emissions – although there was no set timeline. greenpeace international director, jennifer morgan, said that the call in the draft to phase-out coal would be a first in a u.n. climate deal, but the lack of a timeline would limit the pledge’s effectiveness. also, the latest declaration is not as strong as the 2014 obama pre-paris agreement was.
can the two largest economies deal with globalization, trade, human rights and climate – competition and cooperation – at the same time?
what may be the best line item in the declaration, the two countries will also establish a bilateral working group that will meet regularly to address the climate crisis, focusing on enhancing concrete actions in this decade. as the countries have fallen behind their 2015 goals, we need a dose of urgency.
the idea of a science and technology-based effort that ignores political and economic roadblocks is inspiring and has the exciting feeling of a race to space led by the two biggest offenders.
above> greenhouse gas emissions by top emitters, 2018 // below> cumulative emissions, 1751-2017