China-US pact is advancing global methane emission reduction

China, Liu Zhenmin, John Podesta, United States

In a watershed moment for global climate action, China and the United States have inked a historic agreement to intensify cooperation on combating methane emissions. This momentous accord follows extensive discussions between China’s special envoy for climate change, Liu Zhenmin, and the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Podesta, held in the United States.

The bilateral talks delved into multifaceted strategies, encompassing not only the deployment of cutting-edge emission reduction technologies but also a concerted effort towards curbing methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases. Themes ranging from energy transition, circular economy, and deforestation were scrutinized alongside initiatives aimed at fostering low-carbon and sustainable practices within provinces, states, and cities. Additionally, both nations pledged to collaborate on multilateral platforms, with a keen eye on propelling the success of COP 29 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Central to the discussions was the exchange of experiences in climate policy and related actions. Climate change, unlike issues such as trade decoupling, transcends national borders, necessitating a unified global response. Yu Hongyuan, Director of the Institute for Comparative Politics and Public Policy at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, underscored the pivotal role of bilateral cooperation in shaping global climate governance.

The joint declaration on marine biodiversity with France underscores China’s commitment to collaborative climate endeavors. According to Yu, such partnerships highlight the monumental impact of collective action in environmental stewardship. The collaborative spirit extends beyond carbon dioxide mitigation, embracing a holistic approach to address emerging environmental challenges.

Following the high-level meeting, both nations committed to bolstering bilateral cooperation and enhancing capacity-building efforts. This includes the development and refinement of Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) systems to ensure transparency and accountability in methane emission reduction endeavors. The forthcoming Methane and Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases Summit during COP 29 is poised to serve as a catalyst for concerted action in this regard.

The agreement signals a paradigm shift towards harnessing emerging technologies to tackle climate change comprehensively. Sun Shao, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, highlighted the potential for joint research and promotion of innovative solutions, spanning from new energy technologies to carbon capture and storage.

A cornerstone of the agreement lies in the establishment of robust MRV systems, essential for tracking progress and validating emission reduction efforts. Leveraging initiatives like the Methane Alert and Response System pioneered by the UNEP International Methane Emissions Observatory further bolsters technical cooperation and capacity-building endeavors.

Looking ahead, both nations are poised to extend their collaborative efforts beyond methane reduction, encompassing other non-CO2 greenhouse gases. This includes industrial N2O and tropospheric ozone precursors, underscoring a holistic approach towards climate mitigation.

The forthcoming US-China High-Level Event on Subnational Climate Action in Berkeley holds promise as a forum for exchanging best practices and fostering grassroots engagement. As the visiting working group led by Liu continues its deliberations, observers anticipate a slew of tangible outcomes bolstering bilateral cooperation.

In the realm of emission reduction, China and the US are poised to spearhead transformative projects and technology transfers to developing nations. However, challenges persist, with climate change entwined with areas of competition such as renewable energy and green finance. Maintaining a cooperative stance is paramount to unlocking synergies across diverse domains and propelling collective action towards a sustainable future.

The agreement between China and the US to reduce methane emissions stands as a beacon of hope in the realm of global climate governance. Through the establishment of strong partnerships and the embrace of technological advancements, both nations are on the brink of paving a path towards a more sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.


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