Kerry says climate change requires ‘new definition’ of China-US cooperation

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Global warming poses a threat to all humankind and requires a new kind of cooperation between China and the United States, US climate envoy John Kerry told Chinese officials on Tuesday.

Kerry has called for “urgent action” by Beijing and Washington to tackle the threat of climate change as the world’s two largest polluters revive stalled diplomacy on reducing planet-warming emissions.

Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, Kerry underlined the need for “global leadership” on the issue..

His visit to China came as the Northern Hemisphere endured record-setting summer heat waves, which scientists have said are being exacerbated by climate change.

“Climate, as you know, is a global issue, not a bilateral issue. It’s a threat to all of humankind,” Kerry told Wang.
“This is a matter of global leadership,” he stressed, adding that the world “really hopes for that and needs it”.

“Our hope is now that this can be the beginning of a new definition of cooperation and of capacity to resolve the differences between us,” he added, noting that “we both know there are real differences”.

“But we also know from experience that if we work at it, we can find the path ahead and ways that resolve these challenges.”

Wang, in response, underlined the need “for a healthy, stable, and sustainable Sino-US relationship”.

“Cooperation on climate change is advancing under the overall climate of China and the United States, so we need the joint support of the people of China and the United States,” Wang told Kerry, who he described as an “old friend”.

Climate talks between the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters came to a halt last year after Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the US House of Representatives, enraged Beijing by visiting self-ruled Taiwan, which China considers to be part of its territory.

Kerry, a former secretary of state, has enjoyed comparatively cordial and consistent relations with China despite Washington and Beijing locking horns over Taiwan and other issues.

Kerry also met Tuesday with Chinese premier Li Qiang, who told the US envoy climate change posed a “daunting challenge”.

“It is incumbent on China, the United States and indeed all countries in the world to strengthen coordination, build consensus and speed up actions,” Li said.

  • Calls for ‘urgent action’ –

Kerry met his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua in Beijing on Monday, with the two men speaking for around four hours, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Both countries “must take urgent action on a number of fronts, especially the challenges of coal and methane pollution”, Kerry wrote in a tweet after the talks.

Beijing said after the talks that “climate change is a common challenge faced by all mankind”.

Kerry’s trip follows two other high-profile visits by US officials — Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — that were aimed at stabilizing US-China ties.

China on Monday said the mercury hit 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 degrees Fahrenheit) in the northwest of the country over the weekend, setting a record for mid-July.

Xin Xin, an analyst working for the China Meteorological Administration, said in a post on his verified Weibo account that 52.2C was the “highest measured temperature at a regional station in our country that I have ever seen”.

The US has said Kerry will on his trip press Beijing not to slow-roll efforts to cut emissions.

“Every country, including China, has a responsibility to reduce emissions,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday.

©️ Agence France-Presse

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