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The Limits to US-China Climate Cooperation

The world desperately needs the United States and China to collaborate in addressing climate change, but no one should harbor any illusions. The best to be hoped for is that the two superpowers are disciplined enough to avoid endangering humanity’s survival as they jostle for geopolitical advantage.

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – Despite their increasingly bitter rivalry, the United States and China have recently been sending the right signals regarding potential cooperation on combating climate change. The joint statement issued after the mid-April meeting between John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate, and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, indicates that the two governments may be trying to use collaboration on climate policy to prevent their relationship from devolving into outright enmity. But the path ahead is strewn with geopolitical landmines.