Cop26, the US-China agreement arrives in Glasgow (unexpectedly)

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The first to announce it is the Chinese negotiator Xie Xenhua, always at the helm of climate talks in China. “Today we will announce an important bilateral agreement between China and the United States.” Silence falls in the press room. But he is the colleague John Kerry to give the measure of the agreement between the two superpowers.

“The two largest economies in the world have decided to collaborate to limit the global warming in the decade we are experiencing”, says the US climate envoy. “We want the Glasgow negotiation to be a success.” A leap forward that gives hope and that could send an important message to many delegations.

“Both sides recognize that there is a gap between the efforts and the objectives of the Paris Agreement, «said Xie, voicing the desire to find a good climate agreement, here in Glasgow for COP26.

The unified statement will be published in the next few hours but the two negotiators have put various elements on the table. First, the creation of a shared work framework, an important sign of detente between China and the US, which for months have been at loggerheads over military security, trade and Taiwan.

The first Sino-US cooperation meeting is announced for the first half of 2022. “Cooperation is the only possible choice. We want to continue to work with the United States to address an emergency that puts our very existence at risk, “Xenhua commented.” Both we and the United States will act together and with the other parties to make Cop26 a success. We need to think big and be responsible ».

The second announcement is Beijing’s decision to join the Methane Pledge, a US and EU-led initiative to reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than CO2, which would have short-term impacts on global warming. “A huge decision,” he comments Marirosa Iannelli, climate and advocacy coordinator of Italian Climate Network present in Glasgow, which puts pressure on states that have not yet joined this initiative. Now there is a need to try to include this objective in the final agreement expected for Saturday ». Attention also to deforestation, which will be an element of attention for both nations.

It was already known in the afternoon that something was boiling in the pot. In the first draft of the agreement circulated on Wednesday, an important request from China was accepted, that of setting a generic half-century as a long-term goal instead of 2050 as a time reference.

“The two delegations have worked jointly for months to find shared solutions,” both negotiators explain. “It does not mean that the differences between us are resolved, but the climate remains a central issue for everyone».

“The statement from the United States and China shows that the two countries can cooperate to tackle the climate crisis”, explains Laurence Tubiana, CEO – European Climate Foundation and an architect of the Paris Agreement. “Commitments to methane and forests are good news, now they must work together to ensure an ambitious outcome at COP26. This means putting ourselves on the 1.5 degree path and providing the necessary life support to the most vulnerable people. The success of this cooperation will be judged by the outcome of this vital meeting ».

Other stories of Vanity Fair that may interest you:

– What if planting new trees didn’t save us from climate change?

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