US, China Agree to Cooperate on Climate04/18 10:58
The United States and China, the world's two biggest carbon polluters,
agreed to cooperate to curb climate change with urgency, just days before
President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- The United States and China, the world's two
biggest carbon polluters, agreed to cooperate to curb climate change with
urgency, just days before President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit of world
leaders to discuss the issue.
The agreement was reached by U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry and
his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua during two days of talks in Shanghai last
week, according to a joint statement.
The two countries "are committed to cooperating with each other and with
other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the
seriousness and urgency that it demands," said the statement, issued Saturday
evening U.S. time.
Meeting with reporters in Seoul on Sunday, Kerry said the language in the
statement is "strong" and that the two countries agreed on "critical elements
on where we have to go." But the former secretary of state said, "I learned in
diplomacy that you don't put your back on the words, you put on actions. We all
need to see what happens."
China is the world's biggest carbon emitter, followed by the United States.
The two countries pump out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are
warming the planet's atmosphere. Their cooperation is key to the success of
global efforts to curb climate change, but frayed ties over human rights, trade
and China's territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have been
threatening to undermine such efforts.
Noting that China is the world's biggest coal user, Kerry said he and
Chinese officials had a lot of discussions on how to accelerate a global energy
transition. "I have never shied away from expressing our views shared by many,
many people that it is imperative to reduce coal, everywhere," he said.
Su Wei, a member of the Chinese negotiation team, told state broadcaster
CCTV on Sunday that a major accomplishment of the talks was "restarting the
dialogue and cooperation between China and the United States on climate change
issues." Su said the two countries reached a consensus on key areas for future
cooperation on climate issues.
Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping,
to the April 22-23 summit. The U.S. and other countries are expected to
announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of
or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by
less wealthy nations.
It's unclear how much Kerry's China visit would promote U.S.-China
cooperation on climate issues.
While Kerry was still in Shanghai, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng
signaled Friday that China is unlikely to make any new pledges at next week's
"For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily
delivered," Le said during an interview with The Associated Press in Beijing.
"Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this
is not very realistic."
During a video meeting with German and French leaders Friday, Xi said that
climate change "should not become a geopolitical chip, a target for attacking
other countries or an excuse for trade barriers," the official Xinhua News
On whether Xi would join the summit, Le said "the Chinese side is actively
studying the matter."
The joint statement said the two countries "look forward to" next week's
summit. Kerry said Sunday that "we very much hope that (Xi) will take part" in
the summit but it's up to China to make that decision.
Biden, who has said that fighting global warming is among his highest
priorities, had the United States rejoin the historic 2015 Paris climate accord
in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the U.S. withdrawal ordered by
his predecessor Donald Trump.
Major emitters of greenhouse gases are preparing for the next U.N. climate
summit taking place in Glasgow, U.K., in November. The summit aims to relaunch
global efforts to keep rising global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius
(2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) as agreed in the Paris accord.
According to the U.S.-China statement, the two countries would enhance
"their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris
It said both countries also intend to develop their respective long-term
strategies before the Glasgow conference and take "appropriate actions to
maximize international investment and finance in support of" the energy
transition in developing countries.
Xi announced last year that China would be carbon-neutral by 2060 and aims
to reach a peak in its emissions by 2030. In March, China's Communist Party
pledged to reduce carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 18% over the
next five years, in line with its goal for the previous five-year period. But
environmentalists say China needs to do more.
Biden has pledged the U.S. will switch to an emissions-free power sector
within 14 years, and have an entirely emissions-free economy by 2050. Kerry is
also pushing other nations to commit to carbon neutrality by then.