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U.S.-China Joint Statement on Climate Actions

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On November 14, 2023, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua reached an agreement to enhance cooperation to address the climate crisis between the two countries.

In identical statements issued separately on November 15, 2023, the countries agreed to relaunch a working group on climate cooperation, “pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030” and “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil, and gas generation”.

Key issues addressed in these statements include:

  1. Energy Transition: To pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030. And to advance at least 5 large-scale cooperative CCUS projects each by 2030, including from industrial and energy sources. 

  2. Methane and Other Non-CO2 GHG Emissions: Immediately initiate technical working group cooperation on policy dialogue, technical solutions exchanges, and capacity building, building on their respective national methane action plans to develop their respective methane reduction actions/targets for inclusion in their 2035 NDCs. Work together under the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs and commit to ensuring the application of ambitious minimum efficiency standards for all cooling equipment manufactured. 

  3. Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency: Determined to end plastic pollution and will work together and with others to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including the marine environment. 

  4. Subnational Cooperation: Support climate cooperation among states, provinces, and cities with regard to areas including, inter alia, the power, transportation, buildings, and waste sectors. To hold a high-level event on subnational climate action in the first half of 2024. 

  5. Forests: Both sides commit to advance efforts to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030, including by fully implementing through regulation and policy, and effectively enforcing, their respective laws on banning illegal imports.

  6. GHG and Air Pollutant Reduction Synergy: To cooperate in promoting relevant policies and measures and the deployment of technologies to enhance synergy of controlling GHG emissions and air pollutants, including NOx, VOCs, and other tropospheric ozone precursors. 

  7. 2035 NDCs: Reaffirming the nationally determined nature of NDCs, and recalling Article 4.4 of the Paris Agreement, both countries’ 2035 NDCs will be economy-wide, include all greenhouse gases, and reflect the reductions aligned with the Paris temperature goal of holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. 

  8. COP 28: The United States and China, with the United Arab Emirates, invite countries to a Methane and Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases Summit at COP 28. 

One of the essential parts of these statements including the United States and China decide to operationalise the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, to engage in dialogue and cooperation to accelerate concrete climate actions in the 2020s. The Working Group will focus on the areas of cooperation that have been identified in the Joint Statement and the Joint Declaration, including on energy transition, methane, circular economy and resource efficiency, low-carbon and sustainable provinces/states & cities, and deforestation, as well as any agreed topics. The Working Group will carry out information exchanges on policies, measures, and technologies for controlling and reducing emissions, share their respective experiences, identify and implement cooperative projects, and evaluate the implementation of the Joint Statement, the Joint Declaration, and this Statement. The Working Group is co-led by the two special envoys on climate change, with the appropriate participation of officials from the relevant ministries and government agencies of the two countries. 

The world’s top two carbon emitters agreed to include methane and all other greenhouse gases in their respective 2035 emission-cutting plans – the first time China has made such a pledge, as well as curb forest loss and plastic pollution.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has issued an action plan recently to control methane emissions, including the development of an accounting and reporting system for emissions. Major emitters include coal mines, oil and gas fields, farms, landfills and sewage treatment plants. While more specific targets for controlling methane emissions is needed, the plan has The plan includes a range of actions such as:

  • Working out a methane emission accounting, reporting, and auditing system.

  • Strengthening the utilisation of methane in oil and gas exploitation and coal mining.

  • By 2025, the coal mining sector is expected to collect 6 billion cubic meters of coal bed gas, which contains methane, for utilisation.

  • Improving facilities for storage and disposal of dung in livestock farms.

  • Promoting closed systems for dung disposal.

  • Encouraging the construction of anaerobic digesters to capture methane from manure.

  • Introducing incentive mechanisms to encourage the use of methane for heating and power generation.

  • Aiming to have at least 80 percent of dung in the livestock sector utilised by 2025, and more than 85% by 2030.

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