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President Biden’s invitation to the Chinese and Russian presidents to attend climate talks is welcome news. Global climate cooperation among all of the world’s major economies and carbon emitters is absolutely essential if the world is to realize its goals of limiting global warming below catastrophic levels.
Furthermore, Biden’s invitation to Putin and Xi accompanies his emphasis on climate change progress in discussions with allies and partners, including the Quad nations of Japan, India, and Australia. It is encouraging that Biden is not counterproductively dividing the world into democracies and autocracies in the context of vital coordination on a globally shared interest such as climate change.
Moving forward, the United States should combine multilateral coordination and negotiation with bilateral initiatives between the United States and other major economic powers, especially China, given that country’s status as the largest emitter of new carbon dioxide. Such initiatives should include efforts by the U.S. and China to coordinate joint carbon emissions reduction and clean transportation targets, as well as to pledge joint investments in research, development, and deployment of deep decarbonization technologies that will help the developing world to grow their economies in a less carbon-intensive way.
The climate change regime is one of the many aspects of the global order where U.S.-China coordination and cooperation is essential, as a means of ensuring that economic competition remains healthy and constructive, rather than devolving into beggar-thy-neighbor trade restrictions that actually inhibit innovation in green technology.