US special envoy for climate John Kerry speaks to the media. File photo
The United States and China, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, agreed to cooperate to curb climate change with urgency, just days before President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the issue.
US special envoy for climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua reached the agreement during two days of talks in Shanghai last week, according to a joint statement.
But 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 China's special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua.
US President Joe Biden speaks during an election rally.
The two countries "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,” the statement said, according to The Associated Press.
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, followed by the United States. The two countries pump out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere. Their cooperation is key to a success of global efforts to curb climate change, but frayed ties over human rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have been threatening to undermine such efforts.
Meeting with reporters in Seoul on Sunday, Kerry said the language in the statement is "strong” and that the two countries agreed on "critical elements on where we have to go.” But the former secretary of state said, "I learned in diplomacy that you don’t put your back on the words, you put on actions. We all need to see what happens.”
Noting that China is the world’s biggest coal user, Kerry said he and Chinese officials had a lot of discussions on how to accelerate a global energy transition. "I have never shied away from expressing our views shared by many, many people that it is imperative to reduce coal, everywhere,” he said.
Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit. The U.S. and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.
It’s unclear how much Kerry’s China visit would promote U.S.-China cooperation on climate issues.
China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the discussions in Shanghai running through Saturday aim to boost cooperation on climate change and exchange views on the UN Climate Change Conference known as COP 26 to be held in Scotland in November.
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