US climate envoy John Kerry during a joint China and US statement on a declaration enhancing climate action. Source: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via Reuters
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  • The world’s two main carbon dioxide polluters, the United States and China, have expressed a pledge to deepen cooperation in addressing climate change
  • The pact promises to increase cooperation in combating climate change, especially by reducing methane emissions, phasing out coal usage and safeguarding forests
  • The US-China “Glasgow Declaration” has made Australia look like a “climate laggard” on the world stage, according to Climate Council Head of Research Simon Bradshaw
  • Carbon Market Institute CEO John Connor said the decision reaffirms support for the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping average global warming below 2 degrees

The United States and China, the world’s two major carbon dioxide polluters, announced a commitment to increase cooperation in combating climate change, particularly by decreasing methane emissions, safeguarding forests and phasing out coal.

The surprising joint statement, issued overnight at COP26, coincides with the first draft of the COP26 cover decision, which asks nations to “revisit and reinforce” their 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022.

The pact promises to increase cooperation in combating climate change, especially by reducing methane emissions, phasing out coal usage and safeguarding forests.

The framework agreement was revealed at the United Nations climate conference in Scotland by US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, and was promoted by both as a means to move the summit towards success.

“Together we set out our support for a successful COP26, including certain elements which will promote ambition,” Mr Kerry told a news conference. “Every step matters right now, and we have a long journey ahead of us.”

Mr Xie told reporters through an interpreter that the agreement will see China boost its emissions-cutting objectives and build a national methane plan. He also stated that both countries wished to do more to combat deforestation.

The US-China ‘Glasgow Declaration’ has made Australia look like a “climate laggard” on the world stage, according to Climate Council Head of Research Dr Simon Bradshaw.

“One of the big fears going into Glasgow is China and the US would be at loggerheads, but in fact what this statement says is they will collaborate, despite their differences,” Dr Bradshaw, who is in Glasgow at COP26, said.

“The focus on accelerating action this decade — in the 2020s — is significant. That’s what we have to do to keep 1.5°C alive, and that’s the memo the Australian Government has missed.

“Right now Australia is being left in the dust as other countries race to embrace renewable energy. The cost of inaction on climate is not just Australia’s international standing, but also the economic cost of not leading the race on renewables.”

Carbon Market Institute CEO John Connor said the decision reaffirms support for the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping average global warming below 2 degrees.

“This is significant as China raised eyebrows early last week when questioning the latter,” he said.

“The surprise statement also comes after direct antagonism between the nations in week one of COP26, but highlights that cooperation is in the national interests of both.”

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