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February 12, 2018

Responding To: U.S.-China Climate Cooperation Leading up to the Paris Agreement

U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Governance

Zhang Xiliang

I think cooperation between both countries in climate governance is very important. The success of the Paris Agreement was promoted by U.S. and Chinese consensus on many issues. Sino-U.S. cooperation played a leading role, and was the stimulant for more than 190 countries to commit to their intended nationally determined contributions (INDC). This achievement is a landmark. The Chinese government and the Obama administration played a crucial role, satisfying the needs of both the European Union and developing countries. This was conferred in Paris by the Secretary-General of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat.

As for future cooperation, the Obama administration set a good example, however Trump withdrew. Despite this, I think that intellectuals and NGOs should strengthen their cooperation. I have learned that local governments in the United States, such as in many cities in California, as well as universities such as Georgetown, MIT, Stanford and Duke, are still working to advance research in this field. Over the past few years in China, as well as in the United States (including the work of the Georgetown U.S.-China research group on climate change), one of the most important research areas is the carbon market. China is designing and building a national carbon market. It is one of the focuses of our research group at Georgetown, where we found great examples and suggestions for designing China's National Emissions Trading System. The Chinese Emissions Trading System was officially launched in December 2017. The Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue Research Group on Climate Change at Georgetown made huge contributions to our project with valuable suggestions on this topic. 

Two-way communication also helps U.S. intellectuals, industries, and politicians better understand China’s real situation, and deepen their understanding of China’s response to climate change.

Zhang Xiliang is executive director of the Institute of Energy, Environment and the Economy at Tsinghua University. He is a co-convener of the Initiative for U.S. -China Dialogue on Global Issues faculty research group on climate change.

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