US, China pledge cooperation on climate following California talks

By David Stanway

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -The United States and China will revive a bilateral working group on climate and work together on issues like methane, plastic pollution and energy transition, they said in a joint statement on Wednesday following talks this month.

The two biggest greenhouse gas emitters said they support a declaration by G20 leaders to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and promised to work together to curb forest loss and plastic pollution.

The countries’ top climate envoys, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, met in Sunnylands, California on Nov. 4-7 to find common ground ahead of crucial COP28 talks in Dubai starting at the end of the month.

The re-launch of the bilateral working group marks the normalisation of the climate relationship between the two countries following a hiatus triggered in 2022 by the visit of former House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims.

It will focus on key areas of cooperation, including abating methane and boosting efficiency and the “circular economy”, and exchange information on policies and technologies to reduce emissions.

China’s efforts to cut its own carbon emissions will be in sharp focus at the COP28 talks, with the country still approving new coal-fired power plants in a bid to ensure energy security.

The two sides agreed they would “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation” but it didn’t mention phasing out fossil fuels, a goal that China has described as “unrealistic”.

They also committed to advancing “at least five” large-scale cooperation projects in carbon capture, utilisation and storage by the end of the decade.

COP28 will also focus on a “global stocktake” to ascertain what still needs to be done to meet the target set in the 2015 Paris agreement to limit temperature rises.

The United States and China agreed that the stocktake should show that “significantly more ambition and implementation” was required to meet the Paris goals and include calls for developed countries to meet their climate financing commitments.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)