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EF China Released U.S.-China Climate Declaration at Its 20th Anniversary Celebration

Vance Wagner, EF China’s Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, read the Declaration on U.S.-China Cooperation in Climate Change and Clean Energy on November 20, 2019.

Energy Foundation China released the following declaration as we celebrated our 20 years in China with a number of forums and dialogues in November 2019, sending a strong signal of the value of China-U.S. engagement.

Declaration on U.S.-China Cooperation in Climate Change and Clean Energy

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. We are already experiencing impacts from a warming world, such as more intense storms and droughts, lower agricultural productivity, longer heat waves, and rising sea levels. Scientists warn that without rapid and sustained reductions in global emissions, further risks to food and water systems, to human health and biodiversity, and to national security, will grow exponentially. These impacts will be felt in all countries, including China and the United States.

As the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States have a special responsibility to lead and take action in setting ambitious targets, developing and deploying climate solutions, and pioneering new models of sustainable economic growth. There is no global solution to climate change without ambitious action by both countries.

China is taking actions to address climate change. Leader-level attention and consistent policy support at the central and local government levels have enabled China to develop the world’s largest installed wind and solar capacities, to create the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, to slow and possibly halt growth in coal consumption, to shift its economy away from energy-intensive and polluting industries and toward renewable energy-powered and highly energy efficient industries, and to establish the world’s largest carbon market. China recently surpassed its international climate commitments for 2020 and remains committed to the Paris Agreement. A low carbon transition is fully consistent with China’s efforts to achieve modernization by upgrading its economy and decarbonizing its energy system with high productivity and much lower emissions of carbon and other pollutants.

In the United States, government policy combined with market forces helped drive a 13 percent reduction in nationwide greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2017. Over the past two years, even as climate action by the U.S. federal government has stalled, states, cities, businesses, and civil society are leading to forge ambitious pathways to 2050. U.S. coalitions committed to the Paris Agreement—such as We Are Still In and the U.S. Climate Alliance—now represent nearly 70 percent of U.S. GDP, nearly 65 percent of the U.S. population, and over half of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. States including California, New York, and Hawaii have set carbon neutrality goals at or before 2050. In parallel, U.S. businesses with a market capitalization of over $1.7 trillion have made long-term climate commitments. These are consistent with the general trends of technology innovation and new socioeconomic evolution in the United States. This diversified, expanding, bottom-up climate action has helped ensure the United States is on track to deliver at least two-thirds of its international climate commitment by 2025, though more must be done, especially in light of the recent news that the Trump Administration has begun the formal steps to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

This year, the United States and China celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations. Cooperation in science and technology was among the earliest priority areas for bilateral engagement. China and the United States have a long and successful history of constructive engagement to address climate and environment issues and to advance clean energy. U.S.-China presidential agreements paved the way for the successful adoption and entry-into-force of the Paris Agreement. Policy and technology dialogues and capacity building through mechanisms such as the Clean Energy Research Center and Climate Change Working Group have enabled sharing of best practice experience and promotion of smart market competition. Sub-national climate cooperation between California and China is thriving. U.S.-China climate cooperation may facilitate joint incubation of new commercial opportunities and new drivers for the next round of prosperity. The benefits of this engagement far outweigh the costs or risks.

Joint leadership from China and the United States is essential for solving the climate challenge. We are concerned about the growing skepticism—particularly in the United States—about the value of U.S.-China engagement. In this time of re-evaluation of the nature and content of the U.S.-China relationship, it would be a monumental folly and a deep injustice to current and future generations to erect barriers to climate cooperation.

U.S.-China relations are multifaceted and complex. We will not agree or act in an accommodating way on every issue. Nonetheless, we must learn how to cooperate when we have shared interests, whether on nuclear non-proliferation, global peace and stability, trade, global health pandemics, humanitarian assistance, poverty alleviation, or climate change. It’s hard to think of a global challenge where we have a greater shared interest than in taking decisive action to address the threat of climate change.

The Energy Foundation China, on the occasion of our 20th anniversary, acknowledges the long and constructive history of U.S.-China engagement on science, technology, policy, and diplomacy related to climate change, environment, and clean energy over the past 40 years. We affirm the longstanding roles of states, cities, regions, businesses, civil society, and philanthropy in supporting and advancing such engagement. We call on the U.S. federal government reconsider its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and we call on the central / federal governments of both countries to redouble efforts to jointly find and deploy solutions to the climate crisis.


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