FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2021 — On Wednesday in Glasgow, the United States and China issued an unexpected joint declaration on enhancing bilateral climate action throughout the 2020s and for the remainder of the UN Climate Conference COP 26 under the framework of the Paris climate agreement. CODEPINK recognizes that this agreement could not have come to fruition without the tireless efforts of U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Chinese Special Climate Envoy Xie Zhenhua, many antiwar & environmentalist groups, and Members of Congress advocating for climate diplomacy between the U.S. and China.
The declaration of principles is aimed at limiting extra global heating to 2.7 degrees F (1.5 C) above pre-industrial temperatures to avoid the worst climate impacts. In order to accomplish the goals of the 2015 Paris accords, agreements were pledged on methane emissions, deforestation, technology transfers, the transition to clean energy, and de-carbonization. Both envoys said they held nearly three dozen negotiating sessions over the course of the year to develop the initiative.
The joint pledge comes on the heels of a significant Congressional letter led by Representatives Judy Chu, Raul Grijalva, and Adriano Espaillat. The letter was signed by over 30 Members of Congress urging President Biden to strengthen diplomacy with China to address the “immense danger posed by climate change.” CODEPINK was an initial organizational signatory to the letter, along with the American Friends Service Committee, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and Just Foreign Policy.
As the Congressional letter states, “there is no conceivable way to address the climate crisis without substantially strengthening communication and collaboration between our nations.” It goes on to recognize that “the U.S. has a responsibility as the largest historical emitter to assist poorer countries in mitigating climate change.”
In the declaration’s agreements, the two nations agreed to cooperate on “regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2020s.” Yet due to the Kyoto Protocol, national emissions currently do not include military emissions. The United States military is the world's greatest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with emissions amounting to more than that of 140 nations combined. By counting these emissions in national calculations and reducing military activity, the U.S. would be upholding its responsibility for its disproportionate share of global climate change, ensuring the time-dependent success of the goals set in the joint declaration, and reducing hostilities with nations like China. Both the United States and Chinese governments and militaries have an opportunity to cease military exercises, unnecessary provocative “freedom of navigation” exercises, and preparations for war — all of which will eliminate the risk of nuclear war and significantly decrease both fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions. And while China should be making firmer commitments on reducing coal production more rapidly, the U.S. should further cooperate on renewable energy by lifting trade measures and unilateral sanctions against Chinese-made green technology like solar panels.
Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK, said, “The U.S.-China joint climate action declaration shows that our coalition’s calls on every level, including here in Glasgow at COP 26, for cooperation with China for people, peace, planet, and a future for all are not in vain. It proves that we must continue to be loud and bold in our ongoing calls for mutual engagement, not conflict, between the governments of the United States and China on global crises like climate chaos, and that includes counting and reducing national military emissions.”
“While we can see Wednesday as progress and applaud Kerry and Xie for their bilateral diplomacy, we also know that this agreement is not nearly enough to prevent climate extinction,” said Madison Tang, coordinator of the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign. “Unfortunately, the U.S. is still escalating confrontation with China and contributing to increased global emissions through legislation like H.R. 3524, the EAGLE Act, and through its record-high Pentagon budget, both of which would allocate funding for increased military and nuclear aggression towards China (the latter to the tune of $66 Billion).”