China and the United States have agreed to speed up their efforts to address the climate catastrophe ahead of a big UN meeting on the subject, pledging to reduce emissions of methane and other glasshouse gases in addition to carbon dioxide.
The declaration came on the eve of a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping aimed at repairing the strained US-China relationship. Both countries “are aware of the important role they play” and “will work together… to rise to one of our time’s greatest challenges,” they said in a statement released Wednesday in Beijing and Tuesday evening in Washington.
They reaffirmed the Group of 20 nations’ promise to pursue efforts to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030, of which both are members. The two countries agreed to relaunch energy policy talks and form a working group to improve climate action in what they dubbed “the critical decade of the 2020s.” According to experts, the world must act now if it is to have any hope of meeting the agreed-upon target of keeping the average increase in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Cooperation between the world’s two largest glasshouse gas emitters is seen as critical to the success of the UN climate talks, which begin in two weeks in Dubai. Earlier this year, it was unclear whether the two countries would collaborate, given a sharp deterioration in relations over topics including technology, Taiwan, and Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine.
A climate expert described both countries’ commitment to incorporate methane in their next climate action plans as “a major step.” The United States and China also announced that during the next meetings in Dubai, they and the United Arab Emirates would convene a meeting on methane and other glasshouse gases.