July 14, 2024

BEIJING (AP) — China and the U.S. have pledged to accelerate their efforts to address climate change ahead of a major U.N. meeting on the issue, making a commitment to take steps to reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases besides carbon dioxide.

The joint announcement came on the eve of a summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping that is aimed at stabilizing the rocky U.S.-China relationship.

Cooperation between the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases is considered vital to the success of the U.N. climate talks opening in two weeks in Dubai. It wasn’t clear earlier this year whether the two governments would cooperate, given a sharp deterioration in ties over other issues including technology, Taiwan and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Both countries “are aware of the important role they play” and “will work together … to rise up to one of the greatest challenges of our time,” they said in a statement released Wednesday in Beijing and Tuesday evening in Washington.

They reiterated a pledge made by the Group of 20 nations, of which both are members, to pursue efforts to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030.

The two countries agreed to restart talks on energy policies and launch a working group on enhancing climate action in what they called “the critical decade of the 2020s.” Experts say the world needs to act now to have even a chance of achieving the agreed-upon goal of limiting the average increase in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

A climate expert described the agreement by both countries to include methane in their next climate action plans as “a major step.” The U.S. and China also said that they and the United Arab Emirates would host a meeting on methane and other greenhouse gases during the upcoming talks in Dubai.

“Methane has been notably absent from China’s previous commitment,” David Waskow, the international climate director at the World Resources Institute, said in a statement. He noted that China is the world’s largest emitter of methane and that “serious actions to curb this gas is essential for slowing global warming in the near-term.”

The Chinese government issued an action plan last week 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.

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