U.S. and China Vow Climate Change Cooperation

U.S. and China Vow Climate Change Cooperation

The U.S. and China signed a memorandum of understanding this week that is being billed as a joint commitment to reach an international agreement to tackle climate change.

The world’s top two emitters said the development elevates climate change as an issue for the countries, which vowed to hold regular consultations on the issue. The agreement calls for cooperation in a range of areas, such renewable energy, sustainable transportation and natural resource conservation, but lacks firm emissions reduction targets.  

“Cooperation on climate change, clean and efficient energy and environmental protection can serve as a pillar of the bilateral relationship, build mutual trust and respect, and lay the foundation for constructive engagement between the United States and China for years to come, while also contributing to multilateral cooperation,” the memorandum of understanding says.

A meaningful international climate change treaty is impossible without cooperation from the U.S. and China. Climate will continue being a dominant trade theme between the two countries, carrying significant implications for businesses and supply chains operating within each. 

The signing of the memorandum of understanding follows two days of high-level talks between the two countries on economic and strategic matters. Despite the show of unity, however, the countries are divided in how much of the responsibility of battling climate change should fall on developing and developed nations. China has repeatedly called for developed countries to shoulder more of the expense and effort, including reducing emissions more than 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

In comparison, the Waxman-Markey bill working its way through Congress provides for emissions cuts of 4 percent below 1990 levels. China has resisted any mandatory emissions reductions.

However, China’s leaders reportedly told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon they wanted to reach a new international climate change treaty in Copenhagen later this year, when nations from around the world will negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

"I was pleased that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao assured me that China wants to seal a deal in Copenhagen in December and that China will play an active and constructive role in the negotiations," Ban told a monthly news conference, Reuters reported.

U.S. flag image licensed by stock.xchng user ba1969. China flag image licensed by stock.xchng user xdsgn.