Biden-Xi climate cooperation energises COP27 negotiations

Chinese leader Xi Jinping with U.S. President Joe Biden at COP27
Chinese leader Xi Jinping with U.S. President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed on Monday to resume cooperation on climate change and other issues, offering a boost to behind-schedule negotiations at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, Reuters reports.

The leaders of the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases met at the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali where climate change will be competing for time with issues such as the global economy and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Related article: UN Secretary General: “We’re on a highway to climate hell”

Their agreement to talk again about climate thawed relations frozen earlier this year after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infuriated China by visiting Taiwan.

News of the rapprochement came just as COP27 climate negotiators at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh were looking for a sign that G20 nations were willing to stump up more cash and fresh commitments in the fight against rising global temperatures.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s climate minister, said she was hopeful that the rapprochement would energise negotiations.

“The two biggest emitters need to be cooperative and ambitious,” she told Reuters.

Manish Bapna, president and CEO of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, called it “essential”.

“This unequivocal signal from the two largest economies to work together to address the climate crisis is more than welcome; it’s essential,” Bapna said.

Heading into the last week of the two-week conference progress has been slow, frustrating negotiators who are struggling to find consensus on how rich countries should help developing nations meet the cost of climate-fuelled disasters.

Related article: CSIRO, DFAT, Google launch ‘blue carbon’ project at COP27

Meanwhile, Australia has climbed just four places to rank 55th out of 63 in this year’s global Climate Change Performance Index 2023, launched at COP27 in Egypt—a slight improvement on last year’s where we ranked dead last for climate policy.

“Australia has gone from dead last to far from a pass and, despite the nation’s recent progress, there is no escaping just how far behind we are and how much catching up we’ve got to do,” said Climate Councillor and economist Nicki Hutley, who is in Egypt at COP27.

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