The United States and China agreed in Shanghai to cooperate in tackling the climate crisis. US climate envoy John Kerry spent two days in Shanghai with his Chinese colleague Xie Zhenhua on what steps to take.
The joint efforts of these two superpowers, which together account for half of global greenhouse gas emissions, are seen as essential to achieving the Paris climate goals.
Kerry is the first Biden government representative to visit China. Relations between the two countries are tense, US criticism of the suppression of Uyghurs, Chinese claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea, and interference in Hong Kong is very bad in Beijing. But in Shanghai, the negotiators gave the impression that the United States and China could join forces on the climate.
No concrete agreements reached. The two countries pledged to work together to achieve international climate agreements and to continue to work on concrete agreements to reduce the use of fossil fuels. They will also invest more in a fund for poor countries to help them make their economies greener.
Not the finger
Especially in Shanghai, a great deal of time was spent negotiating the use of coal for power generation and in industry. Nowhere else is so much coal burned as in China.
“I didn’t point the finger,” Kerry said after the consultation. “We are used to burning a lot of coal, other countries use a lot of coal, but in China, most of the time, coal is burned. That is why something needs to be changed.
The two-day online climate summit will begin on Friday, at the initiative of President Biden. He called on 40 world leaders to agree on more ambitious climate goals and provide more assistance to the poorest part of the world. Biden has pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping to join the summit, but it remains unclear whether Xi himself will join. Beijing has already indicated not to expect new commitments. “For a large country of 1.4 billion people, it is not easy to achieve the climate goals,” the deputy minister said last week.
It is very important for Biden that the summit be successful. One of his first acts as president was to sign a decree re-joining the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Biden’s predecessor, Trump, had withdrawn the country from it in the past. Biden declared fighting global warming one of the main pillars of his presidency.