Beijing’s freeze on its cooperation with Washington on global warming is worrying, experts say, but they hope the cold snap between the two biggest emitters is only temporary so as not to further weaken humanity’s future.
At the UN climate conference COP26 in late 2021 in Glasgow, the United States and China announced a surprise agreement to step up their climate action and ambitions.
But after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Friday, China suspended all cooperation with the Americans in a number of areas, including the fight against climate change.
“Obviously this is a concern,” Alden Meyer, an analyst at the E3G think tank, told AFP.
“It is impossible to deal with a climate emergency if the two major economies and the two largest emitters do not act, and it is always better if they act together,” he added.
This cooperation between the two countries is necessary on all “pressing issues,” UN Secretary General António Guterres also assessed.
But above all, the Chinese statement raises many questions. “Is this a tactical decision or a long-term strategy? Does China mean that this cooperation is impossible while there is tension?” Alden Meyer insisted. Or what are the implications for COP27 in Egypt in November?
“What are the conditions for resuming dialogue? What can be done in the meantime to limit the damage and restore trust?” Li Shuo of Greenpeace continued on Twitter.
“The answers will be important not only (for both countries), but also for the planet,” the activist insisted.
– “Disaster” –
The earth has warmed by an average of almost +1.2°C since the pre-industrial era, which is already multiplying heatwaves, droughts, floods or storms on all continents. And according to UN climate experts (IPCC), by 2100 the mercury column may rise by +2.8 ° C, even if states fulfill their obligations.
Commitments have been further weakened by the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which, among other things, has led to the restart of coal-fired power plants.
In this context, according to François Gueminne, author of the IPCC, the Chinese decision is “a complete disaster for the climate”, “comparable to America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement”, which aims to limit global warming well below +2 °C, if possible +1. 5°C.
Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement before Joe Biden returned to it in 2021 after his election to the White House.
But this temporary U.S. withdrawal has been accompanied by a retreat from U.S. domestic and foreign climate policy, experts say.
Conversely, China’s announcement “definitely does not represent a withdrawal from the international climate arena or a reversal of climate change action,” David Waskow of the World Resources Institute told AFP.
“Abandoning diplomacy does not mean that China is abandoning its obligations,” added Mohamed Adow of the Power Shift Africa think tank. “In many ways, China is ahead of the United States in the fight against global warming,” he told AFP.
Joe Biden has pledged to cut U.S. emissions by 50-52% by 2030 from 2005 levels and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. progress has been made.
For its part, China, a leading emitter of greenhouse gases in absolute terms but far behind in per capita emissions, has committed to peak emissions in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060.
And cooperation or not with the US, “China will be under pressure from other countries, from the EU, from vulnerable countries” to strengthen its commitment, Alden Meyer assured.