America and China, the world’s two largest carbon polluters, have agreed to collaborate to curb climate change with urgency

SEOUL, South Korea — The United States and China, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, agreed to cooperate to curb climate change with urgency, only days before President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the problem.

The agreement was reached by U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua through two weeks of talks in Shanghai a week, according to a joint statement.

The two countries”are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed together with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” said the statement, issued Saturday day U.S. time.

Meeting with reporters in Seoul on Sunday,” Kerry stated the speech in the statement is”powerful” and the two nations agreed on”critical elements on where we now need to proceed.” However, the former secretary of state said,”I learned from diplomacy you don’t place your back to the words, you put on action. We all need to find out what happens.”

China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, followed by the United States. The 2 countries pump out nearly half of these fossil fuel fumes that are warming the world’s atmosphere. Their alliance is key to the achievement of global efforts to curb climate change, but frayed ties within individual rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea are threatening to undermine such efforts.

Noting that China is the world’s largest coal consumer, Kerry said that he and Chinese officials had a lot of discussions on how to accelerate a global energy transition. “I’ve never shied away from expressing our views shared by many, many individuals that it is vital to decrease coal, everywhere,” he explained.

Su Wei, a part of the Chinese discussion group, told state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday that a major accomplishment of the talks was”restarting the dialogue and cooperation between China and the United States on climate change issues.” Su said the two nations reached a consensus on crucial areas for future cooperation on climate issues.

Biden has encouraged 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit. The U.S. and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions before or at the meeting, together with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy countries.

It is uncertain how much Kerry’s China visit would promote U.S.-China collaboration on climate issues.

While Kerry was in Shanghai, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng signaled Friday that China is unlikely to make any fresh pledges at next week’s summit.

“For a large country with 1.4 million people, these goals aren’t readily delivered,” Le said during an interview with The Associated Press in Beijing. “Some states are requesting China to get the goals sooner. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”

During a video interview with German and French leaders Friday, Xi said that climate change”should not turn into a behavioral chip, a goal for attacking different nations or an excuse for trade obstacles,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

On if Xi would combine the summit, Le said”the Chinese side will be studying the matter.”

The joint statement said the two countries”anticipate” next week’s summit. Kerry said Sunday that”we very much expect that (Xi) will take part” at the summit but it’s up to China to make that decision.

Biden, who’s said that fighting global warming is among his greatest priorities, had the United States rejoin the early 2015 Paris climate accord in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the U.S. withdrawal dictated by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Important emitters of greenhouse gases are getting ready for another U.N. climate summit taking place at Glasgow, U.K., in November.

As stated by the U.S.-China statement, both countries would improve”their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”

It said both countries also intend to develop their various long-term strategies before the Glasgow convention and take”appropriate actions to maximize international finance and investment in support of” the energy transition in developing nations.

Xi declared last year that China will be carbon-neutral by 2060 and aims to reach a summit in its emissions by 2030. In March, China’s Communist Party vowed to decrease carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 18% over the following five decades, in accordance with its target for the prior five-year period. However, environmentalists say China needs to do more.

Biden has pledged the U.S. will change into an emissions-free power sector within 14 years, and have a completely emissions-free economy by 2050. Kerry is pushing other countries to commit to carbon neutrality by then.