China's pledge to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 are hugely significant commitments and deserve to be commended, a renowned U.S. expert said.
"They have helped inject energy and vitality back to global climate change talks, with other countries－mostly in East Asia－also following in China's wake and laying out ambitious climate change targets," Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, said in a recent interview.
For China, as a large developing country, meeting these steep targets will be "an arduous task",Gupta said.
"But seen through the lens of incentivizing and mainstreaming 'green' technologies within our everyday lives, it can also be seen as a huge commercial opportunity."
Going forward, the need now is to encourage the switch to cleaner technologies and industrial processes in the short and medium term, Gupta said.
"Long-term targets are good, but one can only get there through a series of incremental－and incrementally more ambitious－steps which must begin right away," he said.
China's national carbon emission rights trading scheme, which is due to be launched in July, is an important step in this direction, the expert said.
The United States and China issued a joint statement on Sunday after talks between China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry in the Chinese city of Shanghai.
The statement, which contains commitments from China and the United States to cooperate and to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement, said both countries looked forward to the U.S.-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate, which began on Thursday.
'Breath of fresh air'
U.S.-China cooperation on climate change and its memorializing in the recent joint statement is "a refreshing breath of fresh air," said Gupta.
By cooperating and leading together, the United States and China, along with the European Union, "set a good example of political will to their peers that a pressing global challenge can be tackled, and that the North-South divide in the process of doing so can also be bridged," said Gupta.
"Just as importantly, their cooperation on climate change shows that both the United States and China can rise above their differences and cooperate together in the better interests of all," he said.