NewsSuspension of cooperation between the US and China affects...

Suspension of cooperation between the US and China affects the fight against climate change

The suspension of Chinese cooperation with the United States on global warming worries experts , who hope – however – that the friction between the two powers on such an important front for the future of humanity will be only temporary.

At the UN climate conference COP26, at the end of 2021 in Glasgow, Washington and Beijing had announced a surprise agreement to strengthen their cooperation.

But after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China on Friday suspended all cooperation with the Americans in several areas , including combating climate change.

“It’s obviously worrying,” Alden Meyer, an analyst at think tank E3G, told AFP.

“It is impossible to face the climate emergency if the two main economies and the two biggest emitters do not act, and it is always better that they do it in collaboration,” he added.

Sino-American cooperation is fundamental in all “pressing problems”, also estimated the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

But the Chinese announcement raises many questions.

“Is this a tactical decision or a long-term strategy? Does China mean that cooperation is impossible while there are tensions?” Alden Meyer asked.

“What are the conditions for reopening the dialogue? What can be done in the meantime to limit the damage and rebuild trust?” Greenpeace’s Li Shuo wrote on Twitter.

And what will happen at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt in November, COP27?

“The answers will be important not only (for both countries) but also for the planet,” insisted the activist.

Natural disasters

Since the pre-industrial era, the Earth’s temperature has increased by an average of 1.2°C, generating increasingly intense and recurrent heat waves, droughts, floods and storms on all continents.

And according to experts from the UN Climate Change Panel (IPCC), it could rise by +2.8 °C by 2100, even if states met their greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments.

Those commitments have been further weakened by the economic crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic and by the war in Ukraine, which led in particular to the relaunch of coal-fired power plants.

In this context, for François Gemenne, a member of the IPCC, the Chinese decision is “a total disaster for the climate”, “comparable to the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement”, which aims to bring global warming well below +2 °C, if possible at +1.5 °C.

The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris agreement, decided by Donald Trump and reversed by Joe Biden, was accompanied by a pushback in US domestic and foreign climate policy, experts say.

China’s announcement “is certainly not a withdrawal from the international climate scene or a rejection of climate action,” David Waskow of the World Resources Institute told AFP.

“Breaking with diplomacy does not mean that China renounces its commitments,” agreed Mohamed Adow of the think tank Power Shift Africa.

“In many ways, China is ahead of the United States in its fight against global warming,” Adow told AFP.

Biden has pledged to reduce US emissions by 50-52% by 2030 from their 2005 levels and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

But his ambitions have been frustrated by the refusal, so far, of Congress to approve his plans on this matter, although some progress has been made recently.

China – the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in absolute value but far behind the United States in terms of emissions per capita – promised to reach its peak emissions in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.

Whether or not there is cooperation with the United States, China will be “pressured by other countries – those in the EU, the vulnerable countries – to strengthen its commitments,” Alden Meyer predicted.

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