WWF response to US-China joint announcement on climate action at COP26

Posted on 10 November 2021

Commenting on the US-China joint statement made at COP26 on 10 November, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy said: “The unexpected joint statement by the world’s two largest emitters, the US and China, saying they will work together to enhance climate action, reflects a heightened sense of the climate crisis facing us. 

“This announcement could be a much-needed political signal that the two largest emitters, responsible for more than 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, are joining forces to prevent a climate catastrophe. It could mirror their efforts before the Paris Agreement was finalized. Back then, they set up the momentum that eventually led to the agreement of the landmark climate accord. 

News from this statement that both countries intend to communicate 2035 NDCs in 2025 sends a powerful message to the negotiations on a key issue of the Paris Rulebook still undecided: Common Time Frames for NDCs. This leaves no doubt that the 5-year option on the table is the one to go for.”

“If they are serious about avoiding catastrophic impacts, they must also support the enhancement of national policies, plans and actions that will see 1.5°C kept within reach. They should be ready to support the call in the current cover decision text to enhance national targets by 2022, and be ready to show their political leadership here in Glasgow and contribute to a strong multilateral climate regime.”

The joint declaration mentioned that China will phase down coal consumption during the 15th Five Year Plan, and China decided to establish its first national action plan on methane control, aiming for major achievements of methane control and reduction in the 1920s. 

Lu Lunyan, CEO of WWF China, said: “The new Joint Declaration signals momentum of enhanced climate actions and cooperation between China and the US, laying critical foundations for achieving key successes from COP26.

We welcome Sino-US collaborative efforts to advance global climate governance, contributing to crucial outcomes on many of the highlighted COP26 agenda items, such as market and non-market measures, enhanced transparency, as well as common time frames for NDCs. The enhanced targets and actions of China and the US, as the largest two annual emitters of the world, serve as anchors for global climate ambition, backboning global efforts of achieving the Paris goals. 

We encourage China and the US, under the guidance of Paris goals and spirits, as well as the best available science, to faithfully and effectively take climate actions, with continued enhancement of ambitions in their targets and implementation, particularly in areas including energy transitions away from fossil fuels towards renewables, the control of methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases, and implementation of the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration On Forests And Land Use. The two Parties, as responsible major powers, shall make their crucial and due contributions to a world of low carbon prosperity for all.”

In response to the announcement of a joint declaration between China and the United States on enhancing climate action in the 2020s, Genevieve Maricle, director of US climate policy action at WWF issued the following statement: 

“The unexpected and welcome joint declaration between the United States and China represents an important commitment between the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases. No less relevant in the context of this agreement, they are also the two largest economies in the world. Between them they have the power to unlock vast financial flows from the public and private sectors that can speed the transition to a low carbon economy.  
“This announcement comes at a critical moment at COP26 and offers new hope that, with the support and backing of two of the world’s most critical voices, we may be able to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees. But we must also be clear eyed about what is still required if the two countries are to deliver the emission reductions necessary in the next nine years. 1.5C-alignment will require a whole-of-economy response. For the United States, the next steps must be to push for the most ambitious possible outcome at COP26, for Congress to secure passage of the Build Back Better bill, and align the full power of the entire U.S. federal government with the contributions of non-federal institutions across society. These tasks will set the stage as we pivot to implementing the Paris Agreement and we begin to look ahead at the potential of this partnership between these two countries to address the climate crisis with real, meaningful results during this critical decade.” 
The two largest emitters have agreed to joint action on climate change
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