Speed Reads

working together

U.S. and China issue surprise joint climate pledge during COP26: 'A step we can build on'

The U.S. and China issued a joint statement during Wednesday's COP26 talks that pledged climate action and cooperation from both of the world's superpowers, including working to cut emissions this decade and committing to addressing methane emissions, The New York Times and The Washington Post report.

The surprise declaration included few (if any) hard deadlines or commitments, "and parts of it simply restated efforts that were already underway," writes the Post; but still, the announcement's "timing and tone seemed intended to grease the Glasgow negotiations as they entered their crucial final stretch."

"The United States and China have no shortage of differences," said U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry from Glasgow. "But on climate, cooperation is the only way to get this job done." He called the pledge "a step we can build on in order to help close the gap" on emissions, per the Post.

Both China and the U.S. are the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters. Chinese President Xi Jinping chose not to travel to Glasgow, which had early on subdued hopes "a far-reaching" greenhouse gas deal could be reached, notes the Post.

"As two major powers in the world, China and the United States, we need to take our due responsibility and work together and work with others in the spirit of cooperation to address climate change," said China's climate envoy Xie Zhenhua, who announced the so-called "Glasgow Declaration" before Kerry spoke immediately after. 

The agreement, which has won praise from leaders and but some criticism from experts, per the Times, declares both America and China's "intention to work individually, jointly, and with other countries during this decisive decade" to "strengthen and accelerate climate action and cooperation aimed at closing the gap." Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times.