US-China climate pact gives momentum to hope but few details

But the statement’s significance does not lie in its detail, rather in its weight.

“Co-operation is the only choice for both China and the United States,” Xie told reporters via a translator.

“By working together, our two countries can achieve many important things that are beneficial not only to our two countries, but to the world as a whole. As two major powers in the world, China and the US shoulders special international responsibilities and obligations.”


“With this statement, the world’s two most powerful countries and biggest emitters have committed to working together to accelerate action,” said the Climate Council’s chief researcher, Simon Bradshaw, who is in Glasgow as an observer.

When these two nations act, he says, geopolitical gravity shifts.

The statement also defuses the greatest single threat to the talks, which had been the finger pointing between the two nations – China accusing the US of failing to meeting act on its pronouncements, the US accusing China of being absent from the talks and reluctant on the issue.

The rift had been giving cover to smaller parties with an interest in retarding climate action, says Byford Tsang, a China specialist with the global climate think tank E3G, also observing the talks in Glasgow.

Indeed, during an interview earlier in the day the former president of Ireland swallowed tears in an interview as she described the gulf between the attitude of climate vulnerable nations in negotiations and those she believed were not sufficiently engaged, including China, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Australia, which she said remained in “fossil-fuel mode rather than crisis mode.”

That cover is now gone, or at least reduced, and the mood in Glasgow considerably lighter as a result.

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