China’s decision to stop cooperating with the US on the climate crisis has caused alarm, with seasoned climate diplomats urging a swift resumption of talks to help prevent global warming. Demand is getting worse.
On Friday, Beijing announced a series of measures to retaliate against the US for “serious provocations” by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, visiting Taiwan. China, which considers Taiwan its territory and has conducted large-scale military exercises near the island, said it would stop cooperating with the US on climate change, along with other countries. other major problem.
While the extent of China’s withdrawal from climate discussions remains unclear, the move risks derailing the often fragile partnership between the world’s two biggest carbon emitters. , which is just a few months away from the crucial UN Cop27 in Egypt this fall. Experts say there is little hope of avoiding catastrophic global warming without strong action by the United States and China, which are jointly responsible for about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse applications in the world.
The rift in relations has come amid a summer of climate change catastrophe, with record heatwaves and wildfires sweeping across the US and Europe, scorching heat across India and Europe. China, and devastating floods affect America, South Asia, and Africa.
The United States is on track to pass landmark domestic climate legislation, but overall, governments around the world have not done enough to avoid violating agreed temperature targets. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, warned last month that the goal of limiting temperatures to 1.5C is “life support”.
“US-China relations have always been a roller coaster and we regularly see flare-ups, but while you can freeze the negotiations, you can’t freeze the climate impacts. ”, said Laurence Tubiana, executive director of the European Climate Organization and a key architect of the Paris climate. suitability.
“It is in the interest of China and the United States to act on climate and start talking. Indeed, China takes its own self-interest to act; it remains committed to Paris and is continuing to fulfill its domestic commitments on methane and coal. “
The US and China have accused each other of not doing enough to cut planet-warming emissions at various times in recent years. China attacked America’s “selfishness” when then-president Donald Trump backed away from many environmental protections in 2017, while Joe Biden, Trump’s successor, last year claimed the Chinese president China, Xi Jinping, made a “big mistake” by not attending the Cop26 summit in Scotland.
However, the two powers achieved a breakthrough in similar talks in Glasgow in November, agreeing a surprise plan to work together “with urgency” on cutting emissions. . Xie Zhenhua, China’s delegation chief, said both countries must “accelerate the green and low-carbon transition”. John Kerry, the US climate envoy, acknowledged that countries “have no shortage of differences” but that “cooperation is the only way to get this done. This is about science, about physics.”
According to Nate Hultman, a former assistant to Kerry and now director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, the climate partnership has helped foster collaboration between U.S. and Chinese institutions, as well as providing leadership to other countries.
“The US and China working together is an important aspect of tackling climate change, it has the potential to motivate others to do more,” said Hultman.
“The broader relationship is very complicated but both countries understand that this is not just a bilateral issue, there is a global dimension to it. That’s what I hope will bring them back together. Hopefully this suspension is short-lived and they can get back on the table as soon as possible.”
Hultman said that although high-level climate talks may be suspended for now, other bilateral cooperation could continue, although details on the matter remain scant. He stressed: Regardless of the situation between the US and China, progress can still be made at the Cop27 negotiations in Egypt.
“It’s been a challenge, and sometimes we’re going to stall,” says Hultman. “But Cop27 will not succeed if the US and China do not work out their differences. We will have to focus on what else can be done as an international community. “