Shared will and ways
In about two weeks, the 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is going to be held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. A joint statement between China and the United States, the two major economies and top greenhouse gas emitters in the world, reconfirming their commitment to work together and enhance cooperation on climate change has provided a positive boost for the discussions. This is a strong signal for a constructive multilateral conversation in Dubai that leads to real actions and progress. While welcoming the overall message of the joint statement, there are three highlights in particular. The first one is the consistence and coherence between it and the previous joint statements the first in April 2021, the US-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis, the second in November 2021, the US-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action, and the third, the Sunnylands Statement on Enhacing Cooperation to Address Climate Change after a summer meeting between the two sides in Beijing in June. In their latest statement, the two countries "recall, reaffirm, and commit to further the effective and sustained implementation" of all the statements. The consistency is also embedded in those principles that both China and the US are pursuing, particularly the important role the Convention and the UN process play "in terms of both national responses and working together cooperatively to address the goals of the Paris Agreement and promote multilateralism". In a world full of economic and political turbulence, this renewed commitment from China and the US on multilateralism is significant if the world is to successfully take the window of opportunity in this decade to address the climate crisis. All countries and regions, all businesses and communities must take actions. Individual actions alone are but a drop in the ocean. Concerted efforts are the way to avoid the looming climate catastrophe. Second, with the support of China and the US, the world is realizing the objective on further scaling up of renewables. "Both countries support the G20 Leaders' Declaration to pursue efforts to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 and intend to sufficiently accelerate renewable energy deployment in their respective economies through 2030 from 2020 levels so as to accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation, and thereby anticipate post-peaking meaningful absolute power sector emissions reductions, in this critical decade of the 2020s." The power sector is the key to realize the green transition. Phasing out fossil fuels can provide the ultimate energy security for human beings, and renewables are the key and hinge and their use needs to be accelerated. It is well-known that the whole world is embracing the zero-emissions transition with new energy-featured economic growth. More than 100 countries have announced or are implementing their action plans. Among the recent wave of investment in clean energy, China has demonstrated once again its pivotal leadership. In 2022, China's total investment in clean energy and technology exceeded $540 billion, and it continues to be the leading investor in clean energy. China has the biggest renewable industry and is a major supporter of the global energy transition. It is worthy clarification that to increase the supply chain resilience does not mean a-supply-chain-without-China. It will be a huge and unbearable loss if China is forced or has to slow down the development of renewable energy, and the loss will not be just to China, but to the world's climate fight. In fact, there is no time left to build a completely different renewable industry and its supply chain. It is therefore very positive to see this joint support from the US and China for the transition to renewable energy and follow-up joint acceleration efforts can be expected. Furthermore, this is the formal start of cooperation to address other greenhouse gases. China has recently released its National Action Plan on Methane Mitigation, and in the joint statement the two countries said they "will implement their respective national methane action plans and intend to elaborate further measures, as appropriate" and "will immediately initiate technical working group cooperation on policy dialogue, technical solutions exchanges, and capacity building, building on their respective national methane action plans to develop their respective methane reduction actions/targets for inclusion in their 2035 NDCs and support each country's methane reduction/control progress". This is a big and extremely positive step forward in non-CO2 emissions control, particularly for China which is not just a major methane emitter but more importantly a potential leader of actions to reduce methane emissions. At the end of the joint statement, both the US and China emphasized the importance of the "widest possible cooperation" as a critical enabler for achieving ambitious mitigation action and climate-resilient development. Ahead of Dubai, where the COP will once again serve as the center platform for international dialogue, action and joint efforts, nothing can be more vital than to call for and act on an enhanced cooperation to enable more substantial progress to address climate change.