The relationship between the U.S. and China has been tense lately, but their agreement before President Biden’s Climate Ambition Summit on April 22, 2021 to work together on climate change is heartening.
An agreement between the US and China to work jointly on curbing the climate crisis is very good news. If the Paris goals are to be met, China and the US must lead the way, curbing their world-largest greenhouse gas emissions and shepherding a global march to control climate change. Secretary of State Blinken’s meeting with a Chinese delegation in Anchorage in March did not go well; President Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry’s encounter with his Chinese counterpart in Shanghai could have likewise achieved little.
Instead, perhaps because Kerry met with Xie Zhenhua, with whom he had worked on the Paris Agreement in 2015, the two sides both agreed to cut carbon emissions in the 2020s, although no figures were specified. Still, given the context of strained Sino-US relations over tariffs, intellectual property, Hong Kong, Uighurs, Taiwan, and the South China Sea, even an agreement in principle to work together on climate is a cause for optimism among activists, if not yet celebration.