Critical Challenge for the U.S. | Finding Climate as Common Ground
When it comes to climate emissions, the United States and China are jointly responsible for 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. A common U.S. and Chinese “dream” of aggressive climate action will determine the world’s fate in avoiding the worst climate change scenarios. The U.S.-China relationship has been fraught with conflicts. However, climate and environment have long been a channel for dialogue between the two, which can be good for the planet and act as a diplomatic lifeline when other parts of the relationship are fraught with tension.
Globally, the momentum is towards greener and cleaner development, and we know the United States can take action. In the run-up to COP 26 hosted in Glasgow in late 2021, the United States and Europe signed a new methane agreement. At the summit an 11th hour U.S.-China declaration to also reign in methane emissions was presented. This is creating a multilateral platform that could ease Sino-U.S. climate cooperation.
Domestic climate action will give the United States the moral authority needed to meet the foreign policy challenges of climate change. President Biden can host a Leaders Summit on Climate, but ultimately Congress must pass laws that deliver results. Xi Jinping has vowed to “green” the Belt and Roads Initiative (BRI) and drastically reduce CO2 emissions at home. Europe is pursuing its Global Gateways development scheme to invest in climate friendly development in poorer countries, while leading the world on decarbonization at home. Cooperating, or even engaging in healthy competition with China and the EU on clean energy will yield greater impact than actions pursued alone.
If the United States continues to make promises while failing to take action on climate, then we will not have a say in the rules of the future green global economy, nor will we have the same access to—and dominance of—many of the markets that we currently enjoy.
Three Things to Watch