But the significance of the statement does not lie in its detail, rather in its weight.
“Cooperation is the only choice for both China and the United States,” Xie told reporters via a translator.
“By working together, our two countries can achieve many important things that are beneficial not only for our two countries, but for the world as a whole. As two great powers in the world, China and the United States shoulder a special international responsibility and obligations.”
“With this statement, the world’s two most powerful countries and largest emitters have committed themselves to working together to accelerate action,” said Climate Council chief researcher Simon Bradshaw, who is in Glasgow as an observer.
When these two nations act, he says, geopolitical gravity changes.
The statement also addresses the biggest individual threat to the talks, which had been the finger pointing between the two nations – China accuses the United States of not acting on its statements, The United States accuses China of being absent from the talks and reluctant in the matter.
The rift had given protection to smaller parties with an interest in delaying climate action, says Byford Tsang, a China specialist at the global climate tank smelter E3G, who also observed the talks in Glasgow.
In an interview earlier in the day, Ireland’s former president shed tears in an interview as she described the gap between the attitudes of climate-sensitive nations in the negotiations and those she thought were not sufficiently involved, including China, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia. Arabia and Australia, which she said remained in “fossil fuel mode rather than crisis mode”.
That quilt is now gone, or at least reduced, and the mood in Glasgow much lighter as a result.
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