The Elephants in the Room: How Will US-China Climate Relations Play Out?

New Economic Thinking – Dec 17, 2021

The path to sustainable and just climate transition globally cannot happen without meaningful actions and cooperation between the US and China – the world’s largest economies and carbon emitters. What can we expect from US-China climate relations? From the #INETlive #ClimateDebates…

Scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades about the severe global impact that rising temperatures will have on the environment, economies, health outcomes, and ultimately humanity’s long-term survival. Yet little has been done.

Recently, however, it seems that much of the world has awakened to the imminent threat posed by climate change. Multilateral efforts, especially those led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, have earned support around the world, but the convention itself is rather toothless. The United States rejoining the UN’s Paris Climate Agreement is an important step forward, but perhaps more important is the announced collaboration between the US and China, for without their partnership much cannot be achieved.

The goals set by the Paris accord are ambitious and require countries to undertake a massive economic transition, but little progress has yet been realized. Shaken by a deadly pandemic, the world now looks ahead to COP26 in Glasgow later this year to avert climate catastrophe.

It begs to wonder: Will meaningful change finally come of these efforts? What has stood in the way until now, and what impediments might derail this shift?

In a series of debates, the Institute for New Economic Thinking examines the role of economics in climate change, the relation between how we think about and govern our economies and the transformation we know is necessary, and the areas where economics can still play a productive role for the good of the climate and society.

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