US-PRC joint statement on climate shows growing consensus on energy transition

context: Renewed momentum behind US-PRC climate talks has emerged in H2 2023 following a series of meetings, calls for closer cooperation and the release of the PRC’s long-awaited methane plan. Zou Ji 邹骥 Energy Foundation China president reference to ‘setting up new systems’ refers to Beijing’s mantra for the energy transition ‘set up new systems before destroying old ones’, meaning that fossil fuels should not be phased out until reliable clean alternatives are established.

The PRC commentariat has broadly hailed the US-PRC ‘Sunnylands statement on enhancing cooperation to address the climate crisis’, issued on 14 November 2023, as an important milestone in bilateral climate diplomacy during the lead-up to COP28 (United Nations climate conference). 

Zou Ji 邹骥 Energy Foundation China president believes 

  • the joint statement
    • is a major breakthrough in the context of current geopolitical tensions, and is highly significant in terms of both bilateral and global climate cooperation
    • shows that despite complex situations, both countries have genuine interests in maintaining dialogue
    • represents a signal that will inspire confidence in the global community
    • demonstrates growing consensus between the ttwo countries on the necessity of ‘setting up new systems’ in the energy transition
  • the PRC’s huge solar and wind manufacturing capacity can provide cheap, high-quality products for the world to triple its renewable power generation capacity by 2030

Liu Yuanling 刘元玲 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences United States Research Institute research assistant believes

  • the joint statement demonstrates the resilience of US-PRC climate diplomacy
  • if the US and the PRC wish to truly address the climate crisis, they must invest time, money, human resources and energy, which would deepen relations between the two nations
  • US-PRC cooperation on the eve of COP28 resembles the historic collaboration between the two powers in the lead-up to Paris COP21 in 2015
  • major uncertainty remains surrounding the 2024 US presidential election