Opinion\Reporter Journal\Zhao Huanxin

Warming up to joint effort on climate

By Zhao Huanxin | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-11-08 11:16

There is little chance that cooperation in combating global warming between the world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters will be on the top of the agenda of US President Donald Trump's state visit to China, given his skepticism about climate change.

As a new round of UN Climate Change Conference is being held in Bonn, Germany, from Monday to Nov 17, and as Trump is visiting Beijing on Wednesday through Friday, many people, like me, come to the nostalgia-tinged realization that US-China cooperation on climate change once culminated with the Paris Agreement in 2015.

So it is encouraging to hear the rising voices calling for China and the US to ramp up cooperation on climate change, despite Trump's decision in June to withdraw from the Paris pact and focus instead on bolstering the US fossil fuel industry.

In Bonn, government delegates and experts are working on a "rule book" for the 2015 climate pact, which seeks to end the fossil fuel era in the second half of the century by shifting the world economy to such cleaner energies as wind and solar power, according to a Reuters report.

A week before the crucial climate meeting, China's chief climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, expressed hope that Washington will end up staying in the Paris pact and contribute to the global agenda on fighting climate change.

China has made it clear that it's willing to ratchet up collaboration with the US in areas including clean energy, energy and resource conservation, and carbon capture and storage, said Xie, who is attending the Bonn meeting.

David Dollar, senior fellow with the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, told me in an interview that the ballast in the relationship of China and US is their cooperation on the global public goods, the most important of which are climate change and free trade.

Without successful cooperation on issues that matter to the public, the bilateral ties will likely become more volatile and be bouncing back and forth on trivialities, Dollar said.

Cui Tiankai, Beijing's top envoy in Washington, said last week that many members of the international community have pinned hopes on US and China, the world's largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, to play their due parts in addressing global challenges.

It is interesting to note that on Nov 3, the day when Trump left for his 12-day trip to Hawaii and Asia, a major US government report affirmed that global warming is real and is "extremely likely" caused by human activities, a stark contrast with President Trump's position on climate change.

Also noteworthy is the passion of US businesses and many states in pursuing green development and expanding cooperation with China that will lead to mitigating greenhouse emissions.

Of the 29 companies traveling with Trump during his Beijing trip, 10 are involved in liquefied natural gas or other energy fields, raising the prospect for deals on LNG, which leads to much lower pollution than coal, according to a Xinhua report.

Jerry Brown, the California governor whose state economy is the largest among US states, champions the subnational cooperation in climate change. He flew to China in early June to sign agreements with China's Ministry of Science and Technology and two provincial governments to work together on reducing emissions.

Last Tuesday, UN Environment Programme executive director Erik Solheim said, "In all likelihood, the United States of America will live up to its Paris commitment, not because of the White House, but because of the private sector. "All the big American companies are dedicated to go in the green direction," he said.

That coincides with the trend in China, where green development was highlighted in President Xi Jinping's report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a crucial meeting that opened on Oct 18 to draw up a blueprint for China's growth in the coming five years and beyond.

Contact the writer at


Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349