US, China to share policy ideas to fight global warming

BEIJING (AFP) - The US and China, the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, Saturday announced they were joining forces to share more information on trying to combat climate change.

In a joint statement announced as US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a two-day visit to Beijing, both countries said that they would work together "to collaborate through enhanced policy dialogue, including the sharing of information regarding their respective post-2020 plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions".

The two sides have also reached an agreement on implementing five initiatives launched under a joint climate change working group, the statement said.

Those initiatives include emission reductions from heavy duty and other vehicles; smart grids; carbon capture utilisation and storage; collecting and managing greenhouse gas emissions data; and energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use, and it has become a major source of discontent with the ruling Communist Party.

Authorities have become more open about pollution levels, in part as a response to public pressure, but officials have implied that it will take years before the situation improves.

The pollution has been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, and has tarnished the image of Chinese cities including Beijing, which saw a 10 per cent drop in tourist visits during the first 11 months of 2013.

After touring a factory which is a joint US-Sino venture making clean diesel engines for heavy vehicles, Mr Kerry said the two countries were to try to pool their efforts.

"The leaders of China have agreed to join us," he told workers at the spanking new Cummins-Foton factory, which is set to go into production in April.

"China and the United States will put an extra effort into exchanging information and discussing policies that will help both of us to be able to develop and lead on the standards that need to be announced next year for the global climate change agreement," Mr Kerry said.

"This is a unique cooperative effort" between the two countries, he said, adding he hoped it would set "the standard for global seriousness" to fight climate change.

Climate change is set to be the main theme of the next stop of Mr Kerry's Asia tour as he arrives in Jakarta later Saturday.

In their joint statement on Saturday, both sides said that they recognise the need for action "in light of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and its worsening impacts, and the related issue of air pollution from burning fossil fuels".

The agreement includes the sharing of information regarding the plans of the US and China to limit greenhouse gas emissions post-2020, the statement said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.