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Thursday, November 11, 2021

USA-China Glasgow Declaration at COP26 maintains ambition on CO2 and methane

China and US Climate Envoys take the stage at COP26 announcing Joint Declaration

There has been a lot of pressure on China, with the lack of presence of President Xi Jingping at the Leaders summit last week. The US called out China for the lack of this presence. 

But today Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and his US counterpart John Kerry stunned observers by announcing the China-US Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s. 

This adds to the feeling that although the outcome of COP26 may be mixed, lacking in ambition in some areas according to the Draft cover text, and still not resolving the Emissions Gap or Production Gap, there is still substantial movement going forward.

As background, China only offered a very minor update to it's NDC commitment at COP26. 

But this was after it had increased ambition at the Biden summit in April which included commitment to  join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.

In September China committed to stop funding overseas coal projects at the UN General Assembly. September. 

Even though President Xi did not attend COP26, China does have a substantial delegation at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, COP26. 

On Wednesday the USA and China announced their declaration, and outlined what actions both countries would be taking together into the 2020s. This will give a boost to those negotiators arguing for more ambition in the draft textxs for the final COP decision on mitigation, adaptation, Common timeframes and finance.

Reducing methane emissions was an important part of this statement. The USA was one of the initiators of the Global Methane Pledge. China did not sign this, so this statement articulates that China will be taking action to control and reduce methane emissions.

The Glasgow Declaration is a deal that has been worked on for months in the background between the USA and China.

“Co-operation is the only choice for both China and the United States,” Xie, China's head of delegation, told reporters via a translator.

“By working together, our two countries can achieve many important things that are beneficial not only to our two countries, but to the world as a whole. As two major powers in the world, China and the US shoulder special international responsibilities and obligations.

“We need to think big and feel responsible. We need to work … hard to promote world peace and development. We need to actively address climate change through cooperation, bringing benefits to both our two peoples and peoples around the world.”

John Kerry, the special climate Envoy for the USA, and a former Secretary of State under Barack Obama's presidency said, “The two largest economies in the world have agreed to work together to raise climate ambition in this decisive decade,” Kerry told reporters in Glasgow.

“Our teams have worked together for months, and we have worked in good faith. We have found common ground.”

Kerry described the declaration as a “road map for our present and future collaboration” on climate change.

“It declares specifically and identifies the need to accelerate the transition to a global net-zero economy,” Kerry said.

“Secondly, it commits to a series of important actions, not out in the long term but now, in this decade where it’s needed.

“We could leave [Glasgow] on Friday not working together, the world wondering where the future is going. Or we can leave here with people working together in order to raise the ambition and move down a better road.

“What President Biden wanted to do, and President Xi agreed we should do, is join together to work at trying to solve this. And I am convinced that’s a better road to pursue.”

The significant bits  of the Declaration are below
  1. The two sides intend to cooperate on: 
      1. regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2020s; 
      2. maximizing the societal benefits of the clean energy transition; 
      3. policies to encourage decarbonization and electrification of end-use sectors;  
      4. key areas related to the circular economy, such as green design and renewable resource utilization; and
      5. deployment and application of technology such as CCUS and direct air capture.

8. Recognizing specifically the significant role that emissions of methane play in increasing temperatures, both countries consider increased action to control and reduce such emissions to be a matter of necessity in the 2020s. To this end:

    1. The two countries intend to cooperate to enhance the measurement of methane emissions; to exchange information on their respective policies and programs for strengthening management and control of methane; and to foster joint research into methane emission reduction challenges and solutions.
    2. The United States has announced the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan.
    3. Taking into account the above cooperation, as appropriate, the two sides intend to do the following before COP 27:
      1. They intend to develop additional measures to enhance methane emission control, at both the national and sub-national levels.
      2.  In addition to its recently communicated NDC, China intends to develop a comprehensive and ambitious National Action Plan on methane, aiming to achieve a significant effect on methane emissions control and reductions in the 2020s.
    4. The United States and China intend to convene a meeting in the first half of 2022 to focus on the specifics of enhancing measurement and mitigation of methane, including through standards to reduce methane from the fossil and waste sectors, as well as incentives and programs to reduce methane from the agricultural sector.

9. In order to reduce CO2 emissions:

  1. The two countries intend to cooperate on: 
    1. Policies that support the effective integration of high shares of low-cost intermittent renewable energy; 
    2. Transmission policies that encourage efficient balancing of electricity supply and demand across broad geographies; 
    3. Distributed generation policies that encourage integration of solar, storage, and other clean power solutions closer to electricity users; and 
    4. Energy efficiency policies and standards to reduce electricity waste.

B.    The United States has set a goal to reach 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.

C.    China will phase down coal consumption during the 15th Five Year Plan and make best efforts to accelerate this work.

  1. Recognizing that eliminating global illegal deforestation would contribute meaningfully to the effort to reach the Paris goals, the two countries welcome the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.  The two sides intend to engage collaboratively in support of eliminating global illegal deforestation through effectively enforcing their respective laws on banning illegal imports.  
  1. The two sides recall their respective commitments regarding the elimination of support for unabated international thermal coal power generation.
  1. With respect to COP 26, both countries support an ambitious, balanced, and inclusive outcome on mitigation, adaptation, and support. It must send a clear signal that the Parties to the Paris Agreement: 
    1. Are committed to tackling the climate crisis by strengthening implementation of the Paris Agreement, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances; 
    2. Recall the Paris Agreement’s aim to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C and are committed to pursuing such efforts, including by taking ambitious action during this critical decade to keep the above temperature limit within reach, including as necessary communicating or updating 2030 NDCs and long-term strategies; 
    3. Recognize the significance of adaptation in addressing the climate crisis, including further discussion on the global goal on adaptation and promoting its effective implementation, as well as the scaling up of financial and capacity-building support for adaptation in developing countries; and 
    4. Resolve to ensure that their collective and individual efforts are informed by, inter alia, the best available science. 
  1. Both countries recognize the importance of the commitment made by developed countries to the goal of mobilizing jointly $100b per year by 2020 and annually through 2025 to address the needs of developing countries, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, and stress the importance of meeting that goal as soon as possible. 
  1. Both countries will work cooperatively to complete at COP 26 the implementing arrangements (“rulebook”) for Articles 6 and 13 of the Paris Agreement, as well as common time frames for NDCs.  
  1. Both countries intend to communicate 2035 NDCs in 2025. 

Here is a thought. Perhaps USA should have bilateral discussions with Australia to get some ambition on fossil fuel phaseout and control and reduction of methane emissions.

Australia undermining final text of COP26 decision

The news of this cooperation between China and US comes as the draft texts for the final decisions have been published. these show that a clause that would give nations that have not submitted “new or updated” 2030 targets another 12 months to “revisit and strengthen” their emissions reduction effort. But Australia is reported as already working away to undermine that clause

Australia is also unhappy with another proposal which “calls upon” nations to speed up the phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies, according to the Sydney Morning Herald report.


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