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Special Envoys for Climate John Kerry (US) and Xie Zhenhua (China) Photo: Ministry of Ecology and Environment via CNN
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer
The United States and China, the world’s biggest carbon polluters, have agreed to cooperate to keep climate change in check. John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate, and the Chinese envoy, Xie Zenhua, made this agreement over the course of two days in Shanghai over the weekend. This accord comes days before President Biden hosts a virtual summit on Earth Day. The joint statement affirmed: “The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands.”
Why this Matters: China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, but the United States is in second place. Together, they emit almost half the world’s fossil fuel pollution. Recently, human rights disagreements, trade issues, and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have created doubts about whether the two countries could at the same time cooperate on climate action. Especially after a tepid statement from China’s foreign ministry last week dampened expectations. But in a press conference with reporters in Seoul, John Kerry said the language in the statement is “strong,” and the two countries agreed on “critical elements on where we have to go.” He added: “I learned in diplomacy that you don’t put your back on the words, you put [it] on actions. We all need to see what happens.”
Some environmentalists think that China isn’t acting fast enough, but Le Yucheng, China’s vice minister of foreign affairs, emphasized: “For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered,” Le said during an interview with the Associated Press in Beijing. “Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have hit a three-million-year high, according to a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report published yesterday. Despite a brief dip in emissions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall trend of increasing emissions continues, indicating last year’s dip had little to no impact on […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A report in the Dasgupta Review shows that by using a fiscal lens to view Earth’s growing biodiversity loss, we can see how it links to economic development. By viewing nature as an asset like “produced capital (roads, buildings and factories)” or “human capital (health, knowledge and skills)” — […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer While coal use is a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, another industry is set to outpace it: plastic. A new report from Bennington College and Beyond Plastics estimates the plastic industry emits over 232 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 116 coal-fired power plants. […]
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