Those hoping that the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November will be a success must have watched with some dismay at the seeming impasse between China and the United States at their latest dialogue on the issue. They are the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, at 27 per cent and 13 per cent of global emissions respectively, and their cooperation is crucial to the success of COP26. It is worth recalling that after years of little success in talks for a new accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol - the first binding climate treaty that was implemented in 2005 - Beijing and Washington, by working together, paved the way for the Paris Agreement in 2015. This is a landmark treaty in which all nations agreed to limit global temperature increase to well below 2 deg C, preferably 1.5 deg C.
The upcoming climate summit has been described as the world's last hope to avert a climate crisis by having nations commit to reduction targets large enough to limit global warming to 1.5 deg C. Experts warn that if reductions are not large and rapid enough, this goal may be beyond reach, with catastrophic consequences worldwide. Already, at 1.1 deg C above pre-industrial levels, the world has experienced extreme weather that has brought disastrous floods and fires across the globe. As the world's two largest economies, China and the US can lead by example and influence others to set ambitious targets.