COP 26: China and the United States announce a surprise agreement



China and the United States, the world’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases, announced a surprise agreement at COP26 on Wednesday, November 10, reviving hopes two days before the end of this crucial climate conference.

“This document contains strong statements on the alarming studies of scientists, the reduction of carbon emissions, and the urgent need to accelerate actions to achieve it”US Special Envoy John Kerry told reporters.

→ ANALYSIS. The issue of “irremediable losses” shakes up the COP26

“We can all embark on a path of green, low carbon and sustainable development”Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a virtual conference Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) summit, without explicitly mentioning this agreement.

Commitment to the objectives of the Paris Agreement

In their joint declaration, the two main world powers, whose rivalry had seemed to spill over into climate diplomacy in recent months, promise, without very precise details, to “Take reinforced measures to raise ambitions during the 2020s”. They also reaffirm their attachment to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, a limited warming “Well below” 2 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era, and if possible at 1.5 ° C.

Beijing and Washington are also committed to working in Glasgow to “An ambitious, balanced and inclusive outcome on mitigation (lower emissions), adaptation and support” financial to poor countries.

This agreement has been hailed as “An important step in the right direction” by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “Beyond the COP, it’s important for the world”, for his part declared the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.

“Catastrophic” warming

Early Wednesday, after ten days of discussions, the British presidency of the COP issued a first draft of a final declaration calling for strengthening and accelerating the pace of climate commitments by all countries to meet the objectives of the Paris agreement. This text has provoked mixed reactions, in particular from poor countries, which insist that the richest keep their aid promise.

→ ANALYSIS. COP26: the first draft of the final decision marks some progress

The project, which will still be the subject of negotiations, calls on countries to “Revise and strengthen” from 2022 the national contributions (NDC) which set their short-term commitments.

It is, according to the text, to make these commitments “Compatible with the warming objectives of the Paris Agreement”, that is to say “Well below” of +2 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era, if possible + 1.5 ° C.

This demand for acceleration of climate commitments echoes the latest alarming estimates from the UN, which predicts global warming “Catastrophic” of + 2.7 ° C by the end of the century.

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