US And China Resume Talks on Climate Change

John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua are having talks in Beijing to increase international cooperation and ambition to tackle the climate crisis. They agreed to have regular meetings to share scientific and technological achievements, provide technological support to developing countries, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The first meeting is scheduled to take place before COP 28.

Despite a year of no dialogue, both countries have documented methane emissions, and China is working on a plan to reduce them. China has already invested in climate-related finance, but global leaders have argued for increased investment through any available avenues to meet global climate goals.

Kerry highlighted the need for China to reduce coal use to achieve their goal of carbon neutrality by 2060. Despite their efforts in renewable energy, coal expansion is offsetting the benefit, with two new coal-fired power plants being built each week.

Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the scientific evidence of climate change is irrefutable and caused by human activity. He is advocating for a global effort to reduce emissions and address the impacts of climate change. However, Chinese leaders believe that cooperation on climate change is contingent on resolving the current issues between the US and China, such as trade, security, and human rights.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared that China’s commitment to climate change is steadfast but that the country will not be influenced by external pressure when deciding the methods and timeline for achieving its goals. He has stated that China will consider its own economic development, energy security, and other factors when deciding how best to tackle climate change and that outside forces will not dictate to it.

In 2014, the US and China made a joint announcement to combat climate change. In recent months, high-level US officials have been travelling to China for talks, and the outcome of the discussions has been seen as successful. Despite conflicting interests, there is potential for progress between the two countries towards greater cooperation on climate change.

One hundred seventy-five countries signed the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. China and the US, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, have committed to reducing their emissions under the agreement, with China reaching peak emissions by 2030 and the US lowering emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025.

President Biden has promised a drastic reduction in US emissions by the end of the decade, which energy experts believe is a realistic goal. However, Republican lawmakers have criticised the Biden administration for their lack of clear goals when negotiating with China on emissions reductions. They have expressed distrust of China due to their increased coal production amidst environmental concerns. Furthermore, the US increased their gas supply to Europe in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Kerry’s visit is timely as the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing unprecedented heat waves and record temperatures, likely to continue due to an oncoming El Niño. Global temperatures have reached record highs, with China experiencing its second-hottest June since 1961. Many areas have been affected, including Europe and the United States, with Beijing experiencing daily highs near 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Heavy rainfall and flash flood warnings have also been present in some of the country. Scientists have linked this phenomenon to climate change.

The COP28 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai is an important event that will assess countries’ progress in limiting global warming to 1.5C. John Kerry’s visit to China is a chance to foster cooperation between the two countries to reduce methane emissions and create a detente. This cooperation is essential for reaching agreements and holding each other accountable for their commitments.

The US and China, two of the largest emitters, have resumed talks on climate change, and it is a positive first step towards repairing the relationship between the two countries. It is also a sign of hope that the two countries are willing to work together to address the global issue of climate change.





Martina Smith