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US, China Promise to Work Together on Climate Goals

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua before a meeting in Beijing, China July 17, 2023. (REUTERS/Valerie Volcovici)
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua before a meeting in Beijing, China July 17, 2023. (REUTERS/Valerie Volcovici)
US, China Promise to Work Together on Climate Goals
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United States climate diplomat John Kerry and Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua recently agreed to restart a suspended climate working group.

The agreement came at meetings from November 4th to the 7th held in Sunnylands, California, a joint statement released Wednesday said. The statement comes ahead of the COP28 meeting, the United Nations gathering on climate change, in Dubai starting on November 30.

The officials said their countries would aim for new targets for renewable energy and limits on methane gas and plastic pollution. They said some differences remain, like how to stop using nonrenewable energy.

"The Sunnylands statement is a timely effort of aligning the United States and China ahead of COP28," said Li Shuo. He is incoming director of the China Climate Hub at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C.

China and the U.S. are the world’s two biggest producers of pollution from gases that some scientists say are warming the atmosphere. Li described the relationship between the two countries as “a precondition for meaningful global progress.” He said the Sunnylands agreement will help “stabilize the politics” ahead of the yearly United Nations climate talks in Dubai.

The re-launch of the working group marks the normalization of the climate relationship between the two countries following a break in 2022. That was when former U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims.

The officials said the working group will deal with areas in which the two countries can work together. They include reducing methane, increasing efficiency and the economic system in which materials are reused, called the “circular economy.” Additionally, the group will exchange information on policies and technologies to reduce pollution. It will also aim to reduce forest loss and plastic pollution.


China continues to approve new power plants that burn coal to guarantee its energy security.

The United States and China said they support a declaration by the G20, a group of the world’s largest economies, to triple global renewable energy production ability by 2030. They also agreed to speed up the use of energy resources other than coal, oil and gas.

The joint statement said they expect “meaningful” reductions in pollution from the power industry before 2031. But China described the idea of ending nonrenewable energy as “unrealistic.”

The statement listed additional points of agreement. Both sides said they agreed to include methane in their 2035 climate goals. It is the first time China has made such a promise. They also promised to start “at least five” large projects in which they will work together to capture, use and store carbon by the end of 2030.

Li said COP28, the yearly UN climate meeting, still "has its work cut out," especially with nonrenewable energy.

“China also needs to consider what further ambition can be brought to COP,” he added. “Stopping the approval of new coal power projects is a good next step.”

I’m Gregory Stachel.

David Stanway reported this story for Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

renewables adj. restored or replaced by natural processes: able to be replaced by nature

align v. to join a group that is supporting or opposing something

global adj. involving the entire world

stabilize adj. in a good state or condition that is not easily changed or likely to change

efficiency n. the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy

triple v. to cause (something) to become three times as great or as many

ambition n. the strong desire to reach a goal or aim