Seven key lessons from the US-China Climate Pact

James Murray
clock

Historic US-China climate change agreement promises to deliver huge boost to the global green economy

6. The undercard commitments are important too

The new emissions targets may have grabbed the headlines, but the US-China pact also contains a raft of clean tech commitments that will benefit green businesses. The agreement highlights how the US and China are already working together through the US-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) and its work on carbon capture, smart grids, energy efficiency, forest protection, emissions reporting, and forest management, a deal to curb HFCs, and the recently launched US-China Clean Energy Research Center.

Further progress is expected on all these fronts, with the deal stating that the two sides "intend to continue strengthening their policy dialogue and practical cooperation, including cooperation on advanced coal technologies, nuclear energy, shale gas and renewable energy, which will help optimise the energy mix and reduce emissions, including from coal, in both countries".

In particular, the agreement includes specific pledges to expand joint clean energy R&D, co-operate on a major carbon capture project in China, launch a new Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Initiative, provide further funding to demonstrate emerging clean technologies, and work together at ongoing international talks to promote trade in green goods.

7. The scientists are right, the US-China targets do not go far enough

The agreement is a solid step forward for the global green economy and will increase the chances of decarbonisation efforts accelerating over the next two decades. However, policy makers, business leaders, and investors all need to remember that the targets set by the US and China are still not in line with those recommended by climate scientists. Barring hugely ambitious emission reduction commitments from India and other large emerging economies that are not currently in the pipeline, these targets will not deliver the 2020s peak in global emissions scientists claim is needed to keep us on course for a 2C world. Instead, they put us on track for an emissions peak sometime between 2035 and 2050 and a 3-4C world.

Those businesses and policy makers who are serious about tackling climate change have to recognise that the US, China and other leading economies all need to overachieve on the emissions targets they have set, at the same time as investing in climate adaptation and exploring how the world may curb greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere during the second half of the century

More on Policy

Aerial view of the Parliament buildings on Capitol hill in Canberra, Australia | Credit: iStock

'We can end the climate wars': Can Australia's 'greenslide' election provide renewed momentum for COP27?

Australia looks set to ditch its climate-laggard global status after voters strongly backed more ambitious green policies – but can the change in government help reignite global climate action, as geopolitical challenges escalate?

Michael Holder
clock 23 May 2022 • 10 min read
Credit: iStock

Levelling up: Report details how net zero investment could drive growth outside London and South East

Resolution Foundation and LSE report argues that investment in net zero transition could help reduce regional inequality

clock 23 May 2022 • 2 min read
An oil refinery complex in the US | Credit: iStock
CCS

US presses ahead with plan to invest $3.5bn in four direct air capture hubs

US Energy Secretary says multi-billion-dollar investment programme in DAC will position US as a 'net zero leader'

Cecilia Keating
clock 23 May 2022 • 3 min read