China-US Climate Cooperation: A New Chapter

The US is trying to keep the climate dialogue with China separate from other issues. Beijing doesn’t want that, but US climate commissioner Kerry was given a high-ranking welcome when he visited.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang wants more cooperation with the US in the fight against global warming. Closer cooperation is not only in the interest of both countries, but of the whole world, Li said at a meeting with US climate envoy John Kerry in Beijing, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

Kerry also said that the United States is ready to increase cooperation with China on important global issues such as climate protection. At the weekend he had mentioned reducing the climate-damaging coal combustion and the emission of the greenhouse gas methane as priorities.

China and the USA are the largest CO2 emitters

China emits by far the most climate-damaging greenhouse gases worldwide, followed by the USA. In terms of per capita emissions, however, the Americans are well ahead of the Chinese. China plans to gradually reduce its emissions only from 2030 – which experts see as incompatible with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial period.

The earth has already warmed up by around 1.1 degrees, in Germany even by 1.6 degrees. The warmest eight years on record were between 2015 and 2022.

Kerry, who has been in Beijing for a four-day visit since Sunday, received a high-level welcome there. While he met with China’s chief climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua on Monday, he was received first by China’s top diplomat Wang Yi and then by Prime Minister Li Qiang on Tuesday.

“An appropriate solution for every problem”

Wang Yi said the mutual exchange has recently suffered from a lack of communication. By resuming the dialogue, however, “an appropriate solution can be found for every problem”.

Rising tensions between rival powers prompted China to temporarily suspend climate talks with Washington last August. This was in protest at the visit of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

Kerry’s trip was taken as a further sign that both sides are trying to stabilize relations. Kerry is the third senior US politician to visit China in just a few weeks.

The US is trying to keep the climate dialogue with China separate from other issues. But Beijing sees it differently. A dichotomy in bilateral relations is unrealistic and “unacceptable” for Beijing, according to an editorial by the state news agency Xinhua on Sunday when Kerry arrived.

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