On February 19, 2021, the United States formally ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. The withdrawal from this global agreement was declared by the Trump administration in 2019, but the departure was officially effective only on November 4, 2020. So, for just 107 days, the critically important Paris Agreement has been without the world’s most influential government.
Thus, the US’s return to the global warming regime is more symbolic. Still, the Biden administration has taken multiple steps in one month to implement new rules and provide support for the country’s transition to renewable energy.
Biden has appointed John Kerry as the special presidential envoy on climate change and has been committed to achieving a zero-emissions energy grid by 2035 and carbon net neutrality by 2050. Biden is hosting a global leaders’ summit to talk about climate on April 22. For the US president to lead the world on climate, he needs to cooperate with China closely.
Ways to collaborate
Unless these two great powers find ways to collaborate and decide to work together, the world will surely fail to face the climate disaster. Climate change is not a virus that the powerful countries can confront in playing vaccine nationalism; it needs a global commitment to work together and take a cooperative approach.
Unfortunately, for the last four years, the relationship between the US and China had deteriorated on climate action. But the Biden administration has been giving all the right signals for building trust and cooperation with China on climate change issues. Climate change has all the potential to push these two countries to cooperate, and that can produce the base for developing cooperative and dynamic relations to develop.
Climate change is generally seen by analysts and scholars as intensifying global environmental tension and uncertainty. They claim that climate change may not be the primary cause of the violent war itself, but by growing competition for natural resources and pushing people to flee, it may be a risk multiplier in society. Environmental tension caused by the atmosphere will theoretically contribute to war and aggression.
Find peaceful solutions
In that case, since human life has always relied on the mutual capacity to handle survival problems and pursue peaceful solutions, it still has the force to offer collaboration. What the world wants to see between the US and China is this climate-induced partnership.
The planet has not yet seen nations fighting a war because of climate change, prompting mass panic and frequent threats from politicians and intelligence experts. Instead, the nations gathered in Paris in 2015 to conclude a binding deal to reduce their carbon gases by thwarting climate change.
There have been various attempts in recent years to build different frameworks and regimes at global and regional levels to resolve the complexities of climate change-induced stability. However, the effectiveness of these initiatives will rely very much on the partnership between the US and China and the role they will play in pushing others to be part of this global initiative.
A nation will not solve all of the challenges it is likely to face due to climate change, however strong and resourceful it may be.
Also, even if it wants, a country can’t even limit global greenhouse emissions. Thus, the challenges of climate change require nothing short of collective international action. The realisation of this has persuaded many countries, particularly the US and China, to be part of several collaborative efforts at the global level in the recent past.
The Paris Agreement in 2015 was made possible largely because of a series of annual climate change policy conferences funded by the UN since 1995. Industrialized countries in Paris have already vowed to mobilise $100 billion to promote reductions in greenhouse emissions and climate adaptation.
The Paris Agreement marks the world’s turning point on the road towards a low-carbon economy. It is about reducing carbon emissions and supplying poor developing countries with financial and technical resources for climate mitigation.
The rise of right-wing populist leaders in some key countries, particularly in the US, had brought some setbacks to this global cooperation against climate change. Even when Trump went against the Paris Agreement, China remained committed to it in taking aggressive actions to reduce pollution at home and invest heavily in renewable energy production and renewable technology.