John Kerry in China to resume climate dialogue

US climate envoy John Kerry arrived in Beijing on Sunday with the ambition to resume dialogue on the climate, a crucial subject for the two main polluters on the planet. The senior official, who is making his third trip to China since taking office in 2021, comes at a time when the impact of climate change is particularly felt on the planet, with heat waves in many parts of the world.
China is no exception and its capital Beijing has been experiencing temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius for weeks. John Kerry, who will be in China until Wednesday, is to meet his counterpart Xie Zhenhua there.
From Monday, “China and the United States will have an in-depth exchange of views” on climate issues, Chinese state television CCTV reported when Mr. Kerry arrived in Beijing. The channel did not provide further details.
In recent months, visits have multiplied from Washington to warm up diplomatic relations: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came in June, then US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in early July. Main polluters of the planet, the two first world powers have not exchanged on the climate for almost a year. Last August, Beijing had suspended discussions on this subject in protest against the trip to Taiwan of Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the United States House of Representatives. The atmosphere now seems to be the resumption of trade, after months of tension.

Former Secretary of State, John Kerry enjoys a rather cordial and uninterrupted relationship with China. And he is now in a key position, because the Biden administration believes that the climate is one of the areas where the two fiercely competing powers can cooperate.
Time is running out: globally, the month of June was the hottest ever measured, according to the European Copernicus and American NASA and NOAA agencies. Then, the first full week of July was in turn the hottest on record, according to preliminary data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
John Kerry’s ambition is to “engage in dialogue with China on the issue of combating the climate crisis”, according to the State Department. The former head of American diplomacy will discuss in particular an “increase in ambitions and the implementation” of climate regulations, and on the “promotion of a successful COP28”, which will take place in Dubai at the end of the year.
The world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, responsible for climate change, China has promised to reach its peak of CO2 emissions by 2030, then carbon neutrality by 2060. President Xi Jinping also assured that his country would reduce its use of coal from 2026. But in April, the authorities gave the green light to a further increase in the capacity of electricity production from coal.
For Greenpeace, this means that Beijing gives priority to its energy security, which raises doubts about meeting its CO2 emission reduction targets. “There are a number of factors that currently limit the room for maneuver of those in charge of energy planning in Beijing,” Byford Tsang, adviser to the climate think tank E3G, told AFP. Among these factors, according to him: the conflict in Ukraine, which has seriously disrupted the world gas market, and the reduction of hydroelectric capacities in China after the droughts of recent years.
Last summer, millions of people in southwest China faced power cuts after heatwaves affected power supplies and forced factories to shut down. John Kerry’s trip will be particularly scrutinized in Washington after the criticisms made by elected Republicans, who accused him of using a private jet, a very polluting means of transport, to go to the other side of the world to discuss with a political opponent.

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