The US and China are “committed to cooperating” on the pressing issue of climate change, the two countries said on Saturday, issuing the pledge days ahead of a key summit hosted by US President Joe Biden.
The joint statement came after a trip to Shanghai by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, the first official from Biden’s administration to visit China, signaling hopes that the two sides could work together on the global challenge, despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.
Yet to achieve the global climate goal, Kerry said words must be put into action and urged China to reduce its use of coal.
“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” said the statement from Kerry and Chinese Special Envoy on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua (解振華).
It listed multiple avenues of climate cooperation between the world’s top two economies, which together account for nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.
The statement stressed “enhancing their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”
The statement said that both countries also “look forward” to a virtual climate summit of world leaders that Biden is set to host next week, but did not say if Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) would attend.
“We very much hope he will take part,” Kerry, who is now in South Korea, told reporters yesterday.
“Of course, every country will make its own decisions,” he said. “We’re not seeking to force anybody. We’re seeking cooperation.”
China has about half of the world’s coal power, Kerry said, adding that he “talked a lot” about it with officials in Shanghai.
“I am not pointing fingers,” Kerry said. “We’ve had too much coal, other countries have too much coal, but China is the biggest, biggest coal user in the world, and because it’s such a big and powerful economy and country, it needs to move.”
Biden has rejoined the 2015 Paris accord and committed nations to taking action to keep the temperature from rising no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
With the world badly off track to meeting the goal, Biden hopes his summit will result in stronger pledges in advance of UN-led climate talks in Glasgow at the end of the year.
Both Washington and Beijing “intend to develop” their respective long-term strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by the Glasgow meeting, the statement said.
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