Saturday, December 4

The China-US climate agreement Change the rules of the game, say New Zealand experts


New Zealand climate experts say the shocking China-US climate cooperation agreement is a game changer that could overshadow the results of the COP26 summit and help close deals there as well.

China's special envoy for climate Xie Zhenhua speaks during a joint statement by China and the United States on a declaration to improve climate action in the 2020s during the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

China’s special envoy for climate Xie Zhenhua speaks during a joint statement by China and the United States on a declaration to improve climate action in the 2020s during the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.
Photo: AFP

But it is seen as a warning to New Zealand’s agriculture sector that reducing methane emissions must be taken seriously.

In a surprise announcement, the two major powers say they will work together to reduce emissions, including methane, and try to keep warming at 1.5 degrees by taking stronger action over the next 10 years.

The author of the UN climate report, Dr. Bronwyn Hayward, said the agreement added hope and a sense of urgency to the COP26 talks.

“For weary, weary negotiators, this will be just the adrenaline rush they need to help get some of the agreement down this line on some of the really tough details,” Hayward said.

A draft Glasgow agreement released early this morning is being received as lukewarm and unambitious.

With the new agreement between the United States and China, it was difficult to know what would survive from that text until tomorrow, Hayward said.

Having the biggest powers that focus on cutting emissions quickly puts positive pressure on other countries to follow suit, he said.

“Even if, in the end, the promise doesn’t live up to what we expect, it really is an important moment.”

There were clashes between China and the United States entering the talks and there was little expectation of cooperation, he said.

Two better than 200 in climate talks: former climate ambassador

Former climate change ambassador Adrian Macey said the deal could lead to concrete action.

It could even overshadow the COP26 talks with its goals, statements and commitments, he said.

“This doesn’t require 200 countries to negotiate, so it will be less cluttered with all the language and complications that negotiators put on things.

“We’ll see what happens.”

Although the United States and China disagreed on trade and human rights, the climate was an area where they had collective interests, Macey said.

“It’s a statement of the obvious that your two main emitters … if we don’t have those two along with the game, then we can forget about 1.5 degrees. [warming target]probably two degrees too. “

Cooperation agreement alerts New Zealand agriculture: author of IPCC climate report

Hayward said the deal warned New Zealand farmers.

Until recently, methane has been a low priority globally, but that has changed rapidly.

A pledge drawn up by the European Union and the US Less than two months before COP26 to collectively cut methane by a third by the end of the decade ended up signing in more than 100 countries, including New Zealand.

Some large emitters were absent, including China, which instead said it would develop a “national plan” for methane.

Hayward said the US-China plan explicitly mentions that methane puts more pressure on New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

“We’re going to have to start ramping up our methane emission reductions now that the two biggest powers … are focusing on short-term actions in the next five to 10 years.”


www.rnz.co.nz

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