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U.S. & China announce surprise climate agreement at UN climate summit

VIA NPR: The United States and China — the world’s top two greenhouse gas-emitting countries, which together account for about 40% of the world’s annual carbon output — announced Wednesday they have agreed to cooperate on limiting emissions to address the global climate crisis.

The agreement, announced at the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, aims to accelerate emissions reductions toward the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. That accord held governments worldwide responsible for emissions cuts that would keep the global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) relative to preindustrial times, with a target of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

“It’s beneficial not only to our two countries but the world as a whole that two major powers in the world, China and the U.S., shoulder special international responsibilities and obligations,” Chinese special climate envoy Xie Zhenhua told reporters at a news conference. “We need to think big and be responsible.”

At a time when China and the U.S. are at odds over other international issues, the agreement declares an intent to take “concrete actions” on emissions reductions and limitations. The two countries would share policy and technology development, announce new national targets for 2035 by the year 2025 and revive a “multilateral” working group on climate change.

“I’m absolutely convinced that that is the fastest, best way to get China to move from where it is today,” said U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry in an interview with NPR’s Ari Shapiro.