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With a joint announcement, China and the US signal that they will cooperate at COP26 – 11/11/2021 – Environment

A joint statement published by the United States and China at COP26 brought optimism to the negotiations of the UN conference, which seeks to conclude the regulation of the Paris Agreement and increase the ambition of climate goals.

The text states that countries seek to respond to the climate crisis with immediate action and also “through cooperation in multilateral processes, including the Climate Convention process, to avoid catastrophic impacts.”

Announced in the late afternoon of Wednesday (10), the declaration was interpreted by negotiators and COP observers as a political signal that the two countries must cooperate to find solutions for the climate negotiations.

“Geopolitics between the United States and China has changed a lot since the Paris Agreement, and this is the only issue on which they are cooperating today,” said Ana Toni, director of the Climate and Society Institute.

In addition to commercial and technological competition, with the dispute for the 5G market, the two countries have experienced an increase in tensions in recent years, including diplomatic and military provocations, mainly in the Taiwan region and the South China Sea.

The fear among observers of the negotiations was that this conflict between Beijing and Washington could block progress at COP26, which would decisively contribute to the failure of the climate negotiations, as the two lead the ranking of the biggest global emitters of greenhouse gases.

US President Joe Biden harshly criticized the absence of Chinese leader Xi Jiping at the opening of the conference – the move was interpreted in the event’s corridors as a way of avoiding friction.

“I think it was a big mistake, frankly, that China didn’t show up,” Biden told a news conference, accusing his rival of “turning his back” on the “gigantic” problem facing the planet.

“It is really encouraging to see that countries that were at odds in so many areas, in an often acrimonious relationship, have found common ground on an issue that transcends everything else, and that is the climate crisis. This is a very powerful sign. “, said the vice president of the European Commission (the Executive arm of the European Union), Frans Timmermans, at COP26.

“It’s having an impact on this conference, it helps us reach an agreement,” said the Dutchman, the main climate authority within the European bureaucracy.

In addition to reaffirming commitments already declared by countries in April, the new text brings a new announcement from the Chinese side: the elimination of imports linked to deforestation.

“The two countries intend to collaboratively engage in supporting the elimination of global illegal deforestation through the effective enforcement of their respective laws prohibiting illegal imports,” reads the joint statement.

Last year, China had already announced that it would require the traceability of Brazilian soybeans to avoid the importation of products linked to deforestation. With this week’s announcement, the country indicates that it should expand the requirement to other chains with a high risk of deforestation — the main one being livestock.

“The two are our biggest commercial partners, so it is very important for the Brazilian perspective that they are both speaking with the same voice, rather than playing against each other”, assesses Toni, citing the joint commitments mentioned in the declaration for the reduction of methane emissions and the elimination of imports linked to illegal deforestation.

With 16 items, the declaration reaffirms the commitment to cooperation for the implementation of climate goals, announced by the two countries last April, including incentive policies, regulation and technological investment.

The text also reinforces individual goals for each country, such as the American plan to reduce methane emissions and China’s goal of reducing coal consumption as of the second half of this decade.

On the other hand, another reaffirmation generated disappointment for COP26. The text reinforced the importance of delivering the US$ 100 billion in climate finance, promised by rich countries in 2009 and which should not be fully collected before 2023, according to an analysis by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

During the conference in Glasgow (UK), rich countries have been pressured to increase climate finance to the trillions. Developing nations have placed the issue as a precondition for committing to more ambitious climate goals.

The announcements made at COP26 still put the world on a warming path above 2.4°C, while climate science points to 1.5°C as a safer threshold to avoid catastrophic scenarios.

The journalist traveled at the invitation of Instituto Clima e Sociedade.

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