China-US Cooperation on Climate Change

On the basis of mutual and shared interest in decarbonization, China and the U.S. have a lot to cooperate on in a very practical way.

Editor’s Note: Scholars from China and the U.S. expounded their views on bilateral relations from different perspectives at a webinar on March 12. They agreed that the two sides should be committed to benign and healthy competition, and there is potential for the two countries to work jointly in many areas and improve global governance.

The webinar, themed Reset and Reshape–China-U.S. Relations and Global Governance, was hosted by Beijing Review, an English-language news weekly and a subsidiary of China International Publishing Group (CIPG), with the participation of scholars from both countries. The following are scholars’ views on climate cooperation between China and the US.


Jeffrey D. Sachs–professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University

Another area that is clearly of mutual interest is fighting climate change, decarbonizing our economies, working towards a green recovery, and protecting the natural environment. President Xi’s announcement, and then confirm this in the past week in the 14th Five-Year plan and the work report of the government to move to decarbonize the Chinese economy by 2060 is a major step forward for mutual cooperation. I personally believe that China should aim to decarbonize by 2050, because China is so good at the clean technologies that it should accelerate the time table.

But on the basis of mutual and shared interest in decarbonization, China and the U.S. have a lot to cooperate on in a very practical way. I’m pleased that the U.S. and China will help to lead the G20 process on green financing. This is very practical. It’s very important. 

Huiyao (Henry) Wang–founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization

U.S. President Joe Biden signaled that the U.S. is returning to multilateralism. U.S. had re-signed the Paris Agreement on climate change. So China and the U.S. can work together on this area. China has pledged to peak emissions before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

[Besides] can we expand G7 to G10? Let’s include China, India, and Russia into that group. Can we have an international climate change organization or carbon emission standards? And let’s have a climate summit. If they work together, we can accelerate emission reduction. President Biden is going to hold a global climate change conference on the Earth Day next month. I think there are many things we can do in this regard. 

Peter Walker–author and speaker on U.S.-China relations and former Senior Partner with McKinsey & Co.

Obviously, there are certain areas where the U.S.- China relationship will be better. Climate change. And I think both countries have a real opportunity now to work together to move the world forward. And I think working together with the Biden administration and the Paris accord signings is one way that China can help to rehabilitate its image within the United States. And global institutions are going to be stronger, and they’re going to be chances to both rebuild and reform global institutions.