Is U.S.-China Climate Action Possible in an Era of Mistrust?
6 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021 Last revised: 20 Jul 2021
Date Written: April 14, 2021
The world can't meet the challenge of climate change without aggressive action from both China and the United States, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Together, they accounted for nearly 45% of total global carbon emissions in 2019, and any climate solution will benefit from their joint action. However, with U.S.-China relations at the lowest point in decades, competition rather than cooperation increasingly defines the relationship.
Despite the friction, the U.S. and China could have a positive impact on climate change outside of a formal cooperation framework. Specifically, the evolving dynamics around climate action will increasingly foster conditions under which constructive competition can drive needed action by both as they pursue national self-interest. What’s more, some forms of cooperation will still be feasible, even if tensions remain high.
Keywords: climate change, U.S., China, competition, cooperation
JEL Classification: k32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation