April 24, 2024

John Kerry goes to China to resume US-China climate talks

Hong Kong – For all their differences, the United States and China have one thing in common: Both populations are sweating through one of the hottest summers on record.

As US climate envoy, John Kerry arrived in Beijing for talks with Chinese officials earlier this week, the temperature reached a record of nearly 126 degrees Fahrenheit in China’s arid northwest. Meanwhile, millions of people across the US are experiencing an unrelenting heat wave, and more records are expected to be broken this week.

The stakes could hardly be higher.

Experts say extreme weather around the world is being driven in large part by climate change, and there is no solution without the United States and China, the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. But relations between the two countries have been strained by disputes over trade, human rights and the status of Taiwan, which have dogged climate diplomacy for much of the past year.

That has implications for the whole world, said Li Shuo, senior global policy adviser at Greenpeace’s East Asia office in Beijing.

When the US and China work together on climate change, it puts pressure on other countries to make progress as well, he said Tuesday. But “when they can’t talk to each other, there is collateral damage to the global climate conversation.”

Kerry’s trip to China, his third as US climate envoy, is the first formal high-level climate diplomacy between the two countries since China suspended talks last August after then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi , visit Taiwan, a self-governing island. which Beijing claims as its territory. Kerry is the third senior US official to visit China in recent weeks as the world’s two largest economies seek to improve ties.

Kerry said cooperation on climate change, once a bright spot in US-China diplomacy, could put relations back on track.

“Climate, as you know, is a global issue, not a bilateral issue,” he said Tuesday while meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi. “It’s a threat to all of humanity.”

Wang said US-China cooperation on climate change had “enormous potential” but could not be separated from the “total environment” of bilateral relations, according to a readout from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Their meeting Tuesday came as Beijing endured its 27th record high day this year of temperatures above 95 F.

During his trip, Kerry focused on issues such as deforestation and reducing methane emissions. He praised China’s global progress in renewable energy but said it was suffering because of the acceleration of the construction of coal-fired power plants. He also encouraged China to “improve its climate ambition,” according to a State Department readout.

The U.S. aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while China has dual goals of peaking emissions by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2060.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has not met Kerry, told a national environmental protection conference in Beijing on Tuesday that while China remains committed to those goals, it should and must be up to us how to achieve them. achieve them under the influence of others,” according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The big disagreement between the two countries is “how much each should and has done,” said Li Zhengyan, an assistant professor in the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Politics and Public Administration, who studies environmental policy.

The United States expects China to do more because it is the world’s largest exporter and has a strong economy, he said, although China insists it is still a developing country. and that developed countries like the USA should take more responsibility for fighting climate change because. their “historically massive emissions.”

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