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The Sino-American Race to Zero

if China and the US – the world’s two largest emitters of carbon dioxide emitters – reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, everyone will be better off. A strategy of constructive competition, rather than a cutthroat race, will get both countries to the finish line much faster.

HONG KONG – As the United States prepares for a radical course-correction on climate change, China is raising its game. Climate action has become yet another front in the competition between the world’s two largest economies. Who will cross the net-zero-emissions finish line first?

US President-elect Joe Biden is prepared to hit the ground running. He has pledged to rejoin the Paris climate agreement on his first day in office, and vowed to put emissions-reduction efforts and clean-energy jobs at the center of his administration’s economic policymaking, with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions no later than 2050. To spearhead progress, he has created a new White House Office of Climate Policy, and appointed a team of experienced professionals to key posts. Former Secretary of State John Kerry for example, will serve as an international envoy on climate change.

Likewise, Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. In addition, at the recent Climate Ambition Summit, he vowed to reduce China’s carbon-dioxide emissions by “at least” 65% from 2005 levels by 2030, an increase from his previously established target of “up to” 65%.

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