John Kerry embarks on his visit to Beijing as US and China seek climate reset

US Climate Envoy John Kerry arrives in China for talks aimed at collaborating on fighting global warming, despite other areas of deep discord. The discussions will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transitioning away from coal, and increasing the deployment of renewable energy.

Livemint, Edited By Alka Jain
Updated16 Jul 2023, 07:17 AM IST
US Climate Envoy John Kerry,
US Climate Envoy John Kerry,

US China Envoy John Kerry arrived in China on Sunday for three days of talks that will test the ability of world's top two greenhouse gas emitters to collaborate in the fight against global warming despite deep discord over other issues, according to Bloomberg News. 

His visit comes as the lastest diplomatic push aimed to reestablishing connections between the superpowers that frayed amid tensions over export controls and human rights, as well as then-House-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan last August. 

This will also mark the first protracted climate negotiations between the two countries in nearly a year, since Beijing severed consultation on that and other issues in the wake of Pelosi’s controversial visit. 

Kerry said that he is seeking candid conversations with Chinese officials and hoping to forge progress in paring releases of the potent greenhouse gas methane, while hastening the transition away from coal and deploying renewable power.

Speaking to lawmakers in a congressional hearing on Thursday, Kerry said, “What we want to do is find ways to see if China and the US can advance the cause together for the rest of the world by accelerating rates of doing things, by increasing the deployment of renewables, by improving grid management.”

“If we can make some progress on that, we think we can tampen down this edgy sense of competition which could lead to a mistake which takes you to a place you didn’t mean to go to," he added.  

Li Shuo, a policy adviser for Greenpeace East Asia said that a critical thinking to observe in this visit if there are further steps envisioned, what those steps are, and how explicit the steps will be laid out by both sides, Bloomberg reported. 

“The trip might not resolve anything on paper immediately, but it could lay a foundation for future statements or commitments,” he said. 

Jake Schmidt, a strategic director at the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that deliberations between Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, this week could help foster eventual pronouncements at the UN General Assembly in September, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit in California and the UN climate summit in Dubai. 

It is pertinent to mention that both nations are robust investors in clean energy — and specifically committed to collaborate on the issue in a 2021 joint statement, as per Bloomberg reports. 

Beijing chafes at tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels. And the US helped advance a Group of Seven plan to bolster critical minerals security seen as a bid to curb China’s dominance as a major supplier for the materials used in semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries and other technology.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions will peak before the end of the decade — and last year he pledged China would halt financing coal plants outside its borders. 

In Washington, Republicans have seized on that surge in coal capacity to question the wisdom of the US engaging China on climate. 

“They’re the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and have shown no signs of relenting. They are held to a different standard than we are," said Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas. 


(With Bloomberg inputs)

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First Published:16 Jul 2023, 07:17 AM IST
HomeNewsWorldJohn Kerry embarks on his visit to Beijing as US and China seek climate reset

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