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US, China to Sign Climate Treaty: ‘Powerful Signal’


The US and China announced on Thursday that both countries will sign the Paris Climate Agreement on April 22.  The world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases say that they will take domestic steps to join the Agreement as soon as possible this year.

President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping, in their joint press release, gave their assurance that they will work together and with others to achieve successful outcomes this year. They seek to lead by example, urging other nations to sign the Agreement at the United Nations headquarters to win the fight against the climate threat.

“To accelerate clean energy innovation and deployment, they will work together to implement the goals of the Mission Innovation initiative…and carry forward the work of the Clean Energy Ministerial,” states the press release. “They support a successful G-20 Summit in Hangzhou this year, including strong climate and clean energy outcomes, and call on the G-20 countries to engage constructively in international cooperation on energy and climate change.”

Smog in downtown Singapore. Photo from Wikipedia/Sengkang

Smog in downtown Singapore. Photo from Wikipedia/Sengkang

One of the two presidents’ priorities includes using public resources to fund and assist the transition toward low-carbon technologies like what  they announced in their September 2015 Joint Statement.

“Since the joint statement, the United States led an effort in the OECD to successfully adopt the first-ever set of multilateral standards for support of coal-fired power plants using export credit, and China has been strengthening its green and low-carbon policies and regulations with a view to strictly controlling public investment flowing into projects with high pollution and carbon emissions both domestically and internationally,” the release adds.

The announcement has been met with positive response from climate change leaders. They think that this could increase worldwide support for the agreement.

“This joint statement cements the role that climate plays in the US-China relationship,” says David Waskow from environmental campaigners World Resources Institute. “It shows the confidence that both countries have in each other’s ability to deliver on their climate commitments.”

Almost 200 countries have pledged to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases during the Paris Agreement in December 2015. They aim to limit the global temperature increase just below 2 degrees Celsius.

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