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Optimism expressed for climate goals

By LIU YINMENG in Los Angeles | China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-11 09:07

Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, China, Jan 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Efforts to build on pledges from China, US key to global progress, experts say

Collaboration between China and the United States is the key to fighting climate change, and the two nations can coordinate on policy and technology to speed up actions against global warming, environmental experts said.

"The US and China are the largest emitters of greenhouse gas, so their action and leadership on climate change is essential," Ken Alex, director of Project Climate at the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy &the Environment, told China Daily. "If the two countries can collaborate on climate change response, that dramatically increases our chance to keep warming below 1.5 C and avoid the worst impacts."

Alex said that the US-China joint declaration issued during the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last November, was "one of the most important outcomes of that convening".

As part of the joint pledge, the countries agreed to take "enhanced climate actions" to meet the Paris Agreement goals in the coming years. It was recognized by many experts as a reassuring sign that the world's two largest emitters of CO2 are willing to work together to tackle climate change.

"Now, the countries must follow through with specific actions, including detailed plans for faster emission reductions across all sectors: transportation, energy, buildings, working and natural lands, short-lived climate pollutants," Alex said.

Ethan Elkind, director of Climate Program at UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, told China Daily that the two nations have the resources to develop and scale up the technologies to overcome a global reliance on fossil fuels.

However, the US-China bilateral relationship is mired in political tensions, which prevent greater progress from taking place, Elkind said. "I think that tension is inhibiting greater cooperation on climate policies," he said.

The more the two countries can coordinate on policies, manufacturing and technology exchange, the better, Elkind said. He suggested the synchronization of the zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, policies between the two countries as an important next step.

"That means aligning US ZEV goals with China's ZEV targets and identifying opportunities for joint collaboration and research on ZEV market opportunities and innovation, including on batteries and chargers," Elkind said.

The experts gave their views as a UN report was released. It found that extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods and wildfires, as well as disease outbreaks, are taking place more rapidly than scientists expected in many areas across the globe.

Disproportionate impact

The report, which was prepared by nearly 300 scientists, also warned that global warming is disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and developing countries, where people are more likely to lack the resources to deal with the effects of climate change.

In a joint statement released to China Daily, the regional directors of C40 Cities for North America and China, Laura Jay and Boping Chen, respectively, said climate change is a challenge for all of humanity and that the two countries play crucial roles in the global efforts to combat the climate crisis. C40 Cities is a network of mayors of nearly 100 cities collaborating on the need to confront climate change.

"Chinese and US cities play a critical role in advancing climate action locally sharing and learning with each other to advance practical projects for climate solutions," Chen and Jay said.

"The green shipping corridor initiative between the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Shanghai offers a model to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime industry and to decarbonize international supply chains. We hope to catalyze greater cooperation among cities to accelerate urban climate action at global scale."

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