BEIJING, Feb. 17 -- The world's two largest greenhouse gas emitters have finally come to an agreement on climate change. But China's motive in addressing the issue is not a response to U.S. pressure, but for its own benefit.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up his two-day stay in China with a joint statement which said China and the United States will cooperate to achieve substantive results in greenhouse gas reduction.
The statement is a confirmation and extension of agreements reached during Kerry's last visit to China in 2013, when a climate working group was launched, a sign that both countries have recognized the importance of cooperation.
This time, pragmatic cooperation is expected by analysts as hopes are high that a successor to the Kyoto Protocol can be found in next year's Paris international climate talks. The only legally binding document to tackle climate change, the Kyoto Protocol expired in 2012.
All of which requires the cooperation of China and the United States.
Kerry's China visit couldn't have been more timely. A spell of extremely cold weather has just hit America earlier this year, with the extreme weather seen to be a result of climate change.
Meanwhile, China is facing increasingly severe environmental pollution, especially worsening air quality. The arrival of the U.S. secretary of state coincided with another round of heavy smog last weekend, leading to rising public criticism of the government's efforts.
After enjoying high-speed growth for more than three decades, China can no longer bear the costs of environment degradation, increased carbon emissions, water shortages and harmful air, which are all hurting the country's future prospects and causing a rise in diseases among the population.
The ruling Communist Party of China has listed "conservation culture" as being of comparable importance to politics, the economy, society and culture in its efforts to build a socialist country with Chinese characteristics.
China has been paying unprecedented attention to environmental protection. It has abandoned an appraisal mechanism based on GDP growth rates in favor of one concerned more with governments and officials. Transforming the mode of economic growth, as one of China's current priorities, will cut energy consumption per unit of GDP and therefore cut emissions.
"It is not at others' demand but our own will. We have already taken a lot of measures and will take more in the future," said China's President Xi Jinping to Kerry on China's serious attitude toward environmental protection.
These efforts are all part of this country's grand vision to change the present environmental situation and build a beautiful China, which spurs China to engage more to fight climate change.