The world’s two biggest climate polluters announced a surprise agreement at COP26 Wednesday. The agreement was light on details but was significant nonetheless, and seen as a potentially positive signal of US-China relations. The two countries will take “enhanced climate actions” and “raise ambition in the 2020s” toward keeping the global warming limits central to the Paris Agreement “within reach.” The agreement also, for the first time, includes a Chinese commitment to develop a “national plan” to cut methane pollution. China is the world’s largest methane polluter and has so far refused to sign on to the U.S. and EU-backed Global Methane Pledge.
The agreement resembles, but is far less substantial than, a deal brokered by the same lead negotiators — China’s top climate envoy Xie Zhenhua and then Secretary of State John Kerry — in 2014 that laid the groundwork for the Paris Agreement the next year. Chinese president Xi Jinping and President Biden will meet virtually next week, reportedly Monday evening, the countries confirmed earlier this week. (Washington Post $, New York Times $, PBS, Axios, Reuters, New York Times $, CNN, Climate Home, Sydney Morning Herald, CNBC, AP, Bloomberg $, Politico, The Hill, Politico Pro $; Chinese Methane: Bloomberg $; Global Methane Pledge: Bloomberg $; Biden-Xi meeting: Politico, Bloomberg $, South China Morning Post, Reuters; Commentary: Bloomberg, David Fickling column $)