The United States and China will back a new global renewables target and work together on methane and plastic pollution, they said in a joint statement on Wednesday after a meeting to find common ground ahead of COP28 talks in Dubai later this month.

Climate envoys from both countries agreed to revive a climate working group that will discuss areas of cooperation, though differences remain on issues like phasing out fossil fuels.

Partnership between the world’s two biggest emitting countries is seen as a crucial element to securing a consensus agreement at COP28.

For the first time, China – the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions – will include non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like nitrogen oxide in its 2035 national climate plan as well as specific actions to curb methane emissions, major sources of global emissions.

China’s efforts to cut its own carbon emissions will be in sharp focus at COP28, with the country still approving new coal-fired power plants in a bid to ensure energy security.

The United States and China said they support a declaration by G20 leaders to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030, and also agreed to “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation,” which would result in “meaningful absolute power sector emission reductions” this decade.

That falls short of calling for the phasing out of fossil fuels, a goal that China has described as “unrealistic”. However, a report released earlier this week said that record levels of new renewable installations in China may help “all but guarantee” a decline in China’s CO2 emissions next year.

You can read more about this on the NY Times website here.