COP26: US and China in surprise climate deal

In a move that might have seemed improbable only a few days ago the US and China have agreed to work together against climate change, issuing a joint statement agreeing to accelerating their efforts to reduce emissions.

The statement made by the two countries will "recall their firm commitment to work together" to achieve the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement in a number of areas including methane emissions, forests, the transition to clean energy, and de-carbonisation.

China's climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua noted that he believed that the two countries had more in common than divided them on the issue. The rapprochement is expected to be further strengthened when Joe Biden and Xi Jinping hold a virtual meeting. Only last week, Biden had criticised the Chinese President for not attending the summit in person.

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, said the US and China “have no shortage of differences, but on climate, co-operation is the only way to get this job done".

If COP26 was looking a like it might just be a little too little, too late, then this statement changes the perspective, particularly as China appears to at least be acknowledging the urgency of the situation.

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