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Expand chart
Data: BP; Note: Shows emissions from consumption of oil, gas and coal for combustion-related activities and natural gas flaring; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The big surprise at COP26 was China vowing more aggressive steps on climate in a joint declaration with the U.S.

Catch up fast: The Wednesday statement calls for "accelerated actions in the critical decade of the 2020s," as well as cooperation on measurement and reductions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane.

Our thought bubble: A few takeaways...

  • The road to the Paris targets goes through China. The country accounts for roughly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, so its path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris Agreement can remain within reach.
  • But skepticism is warranted. China, despite a U.S. push, has not explicitly changed its current climate pledge, which calls for its emissions to peak at some point before 2030.
  • Overall, "there isn't much new here," Jane Nakano, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells the Washington Examiner.

It's a significant moment at COP26. The statement comes amid high U.S.-China tensions on a suite of topics including climate, where President Biden last week attacked China's absence of new commitments.

  • Bloomberg notes it "changed the mood in Glasgow" during the fraught multinational negotiations and injected "new momentum" into the talks.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Dec 2, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: Markets like carbon-cutting firms

Expand chart
Data: Lazard Climate Center; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Analysis of companies' market performance shows a relationship between emissions-cutting and higher share prices relative to earnings, a metric of investor confidence.

Driving the news: Lazard, a financial advisory firm, explored the equity values and emissions of over 16,000 companies in 2016-2020.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.

Dec 2, 2021 - Sports

IOC defends "quiet diplomacy" after 2nd Peng Shuai call

Peng Shuai during the Connecticut Open in August 2014. Photo: David Hahn/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee said Thursday it held a second video call with Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star who disappeared for weeks after accusing a former top government official of sexual assault.

Why it matters: During the call, the IOC and Peng agreed to an in-person meeting in January, though the committee did not disclose exactly when or where the meeting would take place, as it is unclear if the tennis star is currently allowed to travel outside of China.