September 21, 2023

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US climate envoy John Kerry in China: Can they bury the hatchet in the climate interest?

US climate envoy John Kerry in China: Can they bury the hatchet in the climate interest?

1. What are they going to talk about?

China and the United States together account for about 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. In 2015, President Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi were the first to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement before the eyes of the world. China has since become the largest investor in renewable energy, but it also remains the largest consumer of coal in the world. The US government is investing $330 billion in clean energy, but it also recently approved drilling for gas and oil in Alaska.

There are a number of concrete on the table action points like:

  • He. She Reducing methane emissionsIt is a powerful greenhouse gas
  • He. She combating deforestation
  • the to help poor countries in the fight against global warming.

But there is also more complex topics:

  • The United States wants to push China to do this Coal use to reduce faster
  • On the other hand, China wants America to do so Taxes on imports of Chinese solar panels and battery components for electric cars.

2. How hard do they feel the consequences of global warming?

Both China and the United States experience sweltering summers. In China, a northwestern suburb of Turpan recorded a record temperature of 52.2 degrees yesterday. Since June, a large part of the country experiences temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees. In the southwest, part of the grain crop was damaged by floods. Last summer, China experienced the longest drought in 60 years, causing the loss of 6 million hectares of crops.

In the western United States, a so-called “heat dome” is causing constant temperature extremes. In California, the mercury rose to 53 degrees in some places. The same heat dome is causing heavy rains and flooding in the Northeast, which has already killed many people and caused massive damage.

Climate envoys Xie Zhenhua and John Kerry shake hands at the 2022 Climate Summit in Egypt

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

3. Can they put their differences aside for the sake of the climate?

The climate dialogue between China and the United States came to an abrupt halt last summer after former US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan. But both the US and China seem to agree that they need to talk again to avoid escalation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have visited Beijing in recent weeks.

Of all the possible topics of conversation, the fight against global warming revolves around the most “safe” topic. At the Glasgow 2021 climate summit, climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua proposed a joint plan to tackle global warming. Kerry and Xie are “climate veterans” and get along well. At the start of the Beijing summit, Xie said it was the 53rd time they met.

Visitors in Beijing protect themselves from the heat.

4. What results can be obtained?

It is unlikely that many new goals and promises will be announced immediately after the three days in Beijing. But, as John Kerry said at the start of the talks, “it is imperative that China and the United States make progress before the next climate summit in Dubai at the end of this year.”

The best possible outcome might be for the two superpowers to agree to talk to each other again on a regular basis. Because almost all climate experts agree on one thing: the world can only avert climate catastrophe if both China and the United States put their shoulders in the wheel of possible solutions.

Children resting in a fountain in California

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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