BEIJING: US climate envoy John Kerry held four hours of talks with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Monday, calling for “urgent action” as the two countries revived stalled diplomacy on reducing planet-warming emissions.
Climate talks between the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters came to a halt last year after Nancy Pelosi, then-speaker of the US House of Representatives, enraged Beijing by visiting self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers to be part of its territory.
Kerry, a former secretary of state, has enjoyed comparatively cordial and consistent relations with China despite Washington and Beijing locking horns over Taiwan and other issues.
Kerry met his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua in Beijing, with the two men speaking for around four hours, state broadcaster CCTV said. Both countries “must take urgent action on a number of fronts, especially the challenges of coal and methane pollution,” Kerry wrote in a tweet after the talks.
“The climate crisis demands that the world’s two largest economies work together to limit the Earth’s warming,” Kerry tweeted. Beijing said after the talks that “climate change is a common challenge faced by all mankind”.
China would “exchange views with the United States on issues related to climate change, and work together to meet challenges and improve the wellbeing of current and future generations”, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday Kerry would press Beijing not to “hide behind any kind of claim that they are a developing nation” in order to slow-roll efforts to cut emissions.
“Every country, including China, has a responsibility to reduce emissions,” Sullivan said. “And the world, I do believe, should step up and encourage — indeed, pressure — China to take far more dramatic action to reduce emissions.” China has long used its official status as a developing nation to justify its high emissions, with Sullivan saying “there is more work for them to do on that front”. “Secretary Kerry will make that point when he’s in Beijing,” he said.Kerry’s trip follows two other high-profile visits by US officials — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — that were aimed at stabilising US-China ties.
His visit to China came as the Northern Hemisphere endured record-setting summer heat waves, which scientists have said are being exacerbated by climate change.
“The Kerry visit and the resumption of climate interaction underscores the critical importance of coordinated efforts to address the climate crisis,” Chunping Xie, Senior Policy Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said in written comments.
“It also demonstrates their shared determination to navigate a complex geopolitical relationship to promote the common good,” said Xie.
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