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US and China Agree to Work Together on Climate Change

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President Joe Biden at the COP26 summit. The US and China have publicly agreed to work together to lower emissions. Credit: Eric Haynes, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

The United States and China announced on Thursday that they plan to work together to curb their emissions in an effort to fight climate change.

The two nations, which are the top contributors to the planet’s carbon emissions, announced their deal as the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland nears its end.

China and the U.S. are responsible for almost half of the planet’s emissions. The pair underscored their renewed commitment to cooperating with each other and the rest of the nations at COP26 by committing to reducing their emissions and moving towards clean energy.

The agreement represents a significant step forward in the dialogue between the countries, which have cast blame on one another over the issue of climate change. U.S. President Joe Biden recently called Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision not to attend the summit in Glasgow “a big mistake.”

Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua made a statement on the agreement, saying that “It’s beneficial not only to our two countries but the world as a whole that two major powers in the world, China and the U.S., shoulder special international responsibilities and obligations. We need to think big and be responsible.”

While other officials are excited about the progress between the two nations, they are also wary to celebrate just yet. Many think that the announcement will only mean something if the two global superpowers put their resources behind an agreement between all the countries at the conference, with China expert Byford Tsang saying that “The litmus test is whether we see China and the U.S. working together to support an ambitious (COP26) text.”

Former U.S. President Barack Obama criticizes China and Russia’s absence at the COP26 summit

Former U.S. President Barack Obama also chastized China on Monday for failing to attend the summit as well as launching critiques at fellow absentee Russia.

Speaking to COP26 delegates, Obama said “We can’t afford anybody on the sidelines” and that it was “particularly discouraging” that China and Russia are not attending the conference. He added that climate change should “transcend normal geopolitics.”

Obama criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin for not joining other global leaders at the climate talks in Glasgow, saying he found it “particularly disappointing” that their leaders haven’t shown up to COP26.

“One thing should transcend day-to-day politics and geopolitics and that’s climate change,” Obama says. “The world has to step up and it has to step up now.”

“What is also true, collectively and individually, we are still falling short,” the former President said. “We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis, we will need to do more.”

Obama admitted that “some progress stalled” when Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris deal. “I wasn’t real happy about that,” he added, but said the “US is back” under Joe Biden’s leadership.

Last week in Glasgow President Biden apologized for former President Trump’s past actions, saying “I guess I shouldn’t apologize — but I do apologize for the fact that the United States and the last administration pulled out of the Paris accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit.”

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