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Two for all


Since establishing diplomatic ties through ping-pong diplomacy 50 years ago, China-US win-win cooperation has remained. The coming 50 years will be a key period for human survival, security and development in the 21st century. China and the US should act on their declaration to strengthen their efforts to address climate change and expand cooperation.

China-US climate cooperation is significant not only for bilateral ties but also for international security and global sustainable development, given that climate change is the greatest threat to common security in the 21st century.

During the 26th United Nations Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP 26) in Glasgow last November, China and the United States issued the China-US Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, providing guidelines for improving China-US climate cooperation in the next decade.

The two countries face different international pressures on their emissions reduction and mitigation efforts, for which mutual cooperation should be strengthened. The updated US Nationally Determined Contribution suggests cutting down greenhouse gas emissions in all economic activities by 50-52 percent from the 2005 level by 2030. China will further increase its NDC, peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

By 2030, China aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by more than 65 percent from the 2005 level. It is necessary for the two countries to jointly explore measures to adapt to climate change and enhance resilience, jointly improve their capacity to cope with climate change, and share advanced experience in climate adaptation.

The US has set a goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.China is promoting large-scale and high-quality development of wind and solar power sources and aims to make total installed capacity of wind and solar power reach more than 1.2 billion kilowatts by 2030.According to the declarations, China and the US will cooperate to maximize the social benefits of their clean energy transformation. The two countries can cooperate in fields such as clean energy trade, industrial manufacturing, smart grids, global energy networks and business policies for net-zero energy. Driven by the carbon neutrality agenda, major economies are accelerating the building of an economic system for green, low-carbon and sustainable development. China-US cooperation in the green economy will inject strong impetus into the green transformation of the global economy.

Climate changes can affect water, food, ecological environment, public health and nuclear security. It is already affecting the current international security system. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China and the US need to jointly maintain international security, uphold the international system with the UN at the core and follow the goals and principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement to build a fair, sound and win-win global climate governance system.

Both countries will see more extreme climate disasters such as severe cold and snow disasters, extreme rainfall, high temperatures and drought, hurricanes and tsunamis. The two countries can adopt advanced meteorological observation and earth simulation technologies to establish early warning and forecast platforms for regional and global extreme climate disasters to provide public goods for addressing the global climate crises.

The carbon market provides an effective approach to balance economic development and carbon emissions reduction. The carbon markets in China and the US are developing rapidly. China's national carbon market, covering about 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, started trading on July 16, 2021, making it the world's largest carbon market. China-US cooperation in the carbon market has huge potential, given the great market demand in the two countries. Pilot urban carbon markets can be developed to expand China-US cooperation in green finance.

The two countries can enhance the capacity to control and reduce methane emissions. The US has announced its methane emissions reduction plan, and China plans to formulate a comprehensive and effective methane plan besides its NDC. The two countries should follow the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the NDC mode under the basic framework of the Paris Agreement, and act in line with domestic conditions and within their respective capabilities to control methane emissions. China-US cooperation on improving methane emission reduction technologies can be enhanced.

A China-US climate security and strategic dialogue mechanism should also be established. The impacts of the climate crisis on international security are growing. China and the US will face increasing strategic competition on climate-related security issues in international and regional affairs, such as water resources in the Lancang-Mekong region, Arctic affairs and energy security issues. To avoid the intensifying competition in regional affairs harming mutual interests, the two countries can establish a strategic dialogue mechanism to communicate closely on carbon neutrality policies and regional climate-related security issues and strategic affairs to maintain sound competition and cooperation, guard global peace jointly, promote global development, and uphold a fair and sound international order.

The author is deputy director of the Center for Climate Change and Ecological Security Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn