Civil Society Shows the Way Towards Long-Term Sino-American Cooperation on Climate

With two days left in the climate negotiations in Cancun, a group of Chinese and American NGOs showed last night what can be done when we roll up our sleeves and work toward common solutions. With representation across all fields and age ranges, we produced what we hope to be a model for how our two countries can achieve better mutual understanding and mount an effective response to the threats of climate change.

 The “Agreement on Long-Term Cooperative Action Between Members of the Civil Societies of China and the United States” (see text below in English and Chinese), drafted late into the morning, was signed today on the grounds of the Moon Palace, where negotiators from our respective countries are trying to hammer out a way forward in the tense climate talks.

U.S. and Chinese NGOs have gathered informally to share tactics and strategies previously, but we have not enjoyed a stable, institutional arrangement and concrete set of objectives to leverage our collective strengths.

Based on a set of principles – including the urgency of facing human-caused climate change whose effects are already being felt and the need to acknowledge the role of civil society in this fight – we have agreed to four essential activities:

1)      Enhance public understanding of the good faith progress our two governments have made, and push them to do more;

2)      Hold exchanges and workshops in order to build capacity amongst civil society groups, especially the youth;

3)      Provide funding to support these activities – in a symbolic gesture, starting at US$30 from contributions of those present – but ramping up to have something in place by South Africa next year;

4)      Encourage civil society groups across all countries to join us in this endeavor.

We conclude the letter by urging the countries here to continue to allow civil society a voice within the UN talks, and to listen to that voice. We also urge China and the U.S. to cooperate responsibly toward lasting and effective solutions to climate change.

 Our goal with this collaboration is to show our governments how to see beyond the day-to-day minutia, and look beyond to the climate solutions we both know we need. Both countries are doing a lot to counter global climate change. But they can and should do more. We as civil society can perhaps show them how.

This post was coauthored by NRDC China Climate Fellow Michael Davidson.





The undersigned members of the civil societies of China and the United States,


Affirming that climate change is a common and urgent challenge for our two countries requiring long-term cooperative action;

Affirming that anthropogenic climate change is causing serious harm around the world that threatens our mutual prosperity;

Recognizing the role of civil society in strengthening and enhancing trust and mutual understanding between our governments and peoples;

Recognizing the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and the respective capacities of civil society groups to act;


Resolve to:

Enhance public understanding of the good faith progress that our two countries have made in combating climate change, and contribute to addressing climate change domestically and internationally, and raising the level of ambition of our two governments;

Establish an open and inclusive platform of informational and professional exchanges, workshops, working groups and informal networks to share best practices and build capacity and understanding amongst civil society, including youth groups;

Establish immediately a fast-start fund of US$30 [RMB 200] [MXN 360] to support civil society cooperation on climate change, with a view to establishing a long-term financing mechanism for adoption at the seventeenth session of the Convention of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;

Encourage civil society organizations of all countries to participate in and review the progress of our cooperation; and


Parties to the Convention to acknowledge the contributions of civil society organizations in achieving progress toward a fair, ambitious and binding (FABulous) climate change agreement; and

China and the United States to seek common ground and cooperate responsibly with all countries in order to pursue timely, effective and lasting solutions to climate change for current and future generations on our planet.


9 December 2010  

Cascade Climate Network

China Green Student Forum

China Youth Climate Action Network

Conservation International

COP16 China Youth Delegation

Forward Works

Friend of Nature

Green Anhui

Green Anhui Student Form

Green Earth Volunteers

Green Kunming

Green Stone Environmental Action Network

Green Wing Environment and Development Association

Green Zhejiang



Guangxi Regional Green Organization Alliance

Hangzhou Ecology Culture Association

Huaihe Youth Environment Act

Institute of Environment and Development

Natural Resources Defense Council

National Wildlife Federation

Oil Change International

SHANSHUI Conservation Center

Shenzhen Home Road, Culture Communication Co., Ltd.

Sierra Club



Union of Concerned Scientists


Wuhu Ecology centre

Xiaoyagaga foundation