China and the United States agree that stronger pledges to fight climate change should be introduced before a new round of worldwide talks at the end of the year, the two countries said in a joint statement on Sunday.
China - the world's biggest polluter - has announced an ambitious target to be carbon-neutral by 2060, but analysts have warned high reliance on coal and modest short-term targets could scupper the ambition.
The announcement came after President Biden's global climate envoy, former secretary of state John F. Kerry, traveled to China this week to meet with his counterparts ahead of a White House climate summit Thursday and Friday.
The joint statement came after a trip to Shanghai by USA climate envoy John Kerry, the first official from Biden's administration to visit China, signalling hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.
"The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis", their joint statement said. From Shanghai, the former secretary of state flew to South Korea for talks.
Both countries also "look forward" to a virtual climate summit of world leaders that Biden will host next week, though the statement did not say if Chinese President Xi Jinping would attend.
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Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit.
Li Shuo, senior climate adviser for the environmental group Greenpeace, said China could soon respond to a new US pledge with one of its own, building on the "momentum" of the Shanghai talks.
"For a country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered. I am afraid this is not very realistic", Le Yucheng, China's vice foreign minister told The Associated Press. Bilateral discussions ground to a halt during the administration of Donald Trump, who withdrew from the 2015 Paris agreement after claiming it unfairly punished US businesses.
Biden, who has said that fighting global warming is among his highest priorities, had the United States rejoin the Paris climate accord in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the USA withdrawal ordered by predecessor Donald Trump.
It said both countries "are firmly committed to working together and with other parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement".
The two sides are committed to pursuing efforts to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is in accordance with Article 2 of the Agreement, according to the statement.