By Javier Albisu
Glasgow, United Kingdom, Nov 10 (EFE).- China and the United States – the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 carbon dioxide polluters, respectively, – on Wednesday injected some optimism into the final stretch of the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, releasing a surprise joint declaration pledging to do more to cut emissions this decade.
The two superpowers published a statement in which they promised to strengthen climate action in the 2020s to achieve the 2015 Paris Agreement goals of limiting the global rise in temperatures above pre-industrial levels to well below 2 C by the end of the century and striving to keep that increase to 1.5 C or less, Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate change envoy, said in announcing the so-called “Glasgow Declaration” at a press conference.
“Now the two largest economies in the world have agreed to raise climate ambition in this decisive decade,” the US’s climate czar, John Kerry, told reporters.
Washington and Beijing recognized the “seriousness and urgency” of the climate crisis and pledged to work both individually and jointly to avoid its most “catastrophic effects.”
They also mentioned different areas for cooperation, including the rollout of renewable energies and clean technologies, the fight against illegal deforestation and the promotion of a circular economy.
Significantly, China for the first time said it would come up with a plan to cut methane emissions, a priority for the US.
The Asian giant also reiterated a pledge made in April by President Xi Jinping (absent from Glasgow), who said China would start phasing down coal consumption starting in 2026.
Also Wednesday, the British presidency of the climate summit announced a draft of a final COP26 deal, which the participating countries have until Friday to hammer out.
Different sources involved in the negotiations told Efe that the text, which urges countries to bolster their emission-cutting targets by the end of next year and stresses that the aim is to keep the global temperature rise to only 1.5 C, gives cause for optimism.
The proposed agreement released by COP26 President Alok Sharma “recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5 C by 2100 requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net-zero around mid-century.”
It also expresses “alarm and concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 C (2 F) of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region.”
The text is regarded by climate-focused non-governmental organizations as moderately positive, although they criticized the lack of specific mention of oil and natural gas and said Saudi Arabia – a top-three oil producer along with the US and Russia – had blocked a more ambitious proposal. EFE