Tuesday, November 30

The United States and China: two rivals condemned to understand each other on climate change


Meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and United States Special Envoy for Climate John KerryAFP

Tianjin, northeast China, has become a kind of bubble city to host meetings between Chinese politicians and emissaries of foreign governments. In times of pandemic, when the Asian country has just overcome its worst outbreak in 2021, the authorities shield the political center of the country, Pekn, moving the bilateral meetings to another large city that is only 30 minutes by train from the capital.

In Tianjin was in mid-July Wendy Sherman, United States Under Secretary of State. Two days later, a delegation from the Taliban landed, before the fall of Kabul, to discuss the future of Afghanistan with the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi.

On Tuesday evening, the former secretary of state ofBarak Obama, John Kerry, current global envoy of President Joe Bidenfor climate change. After a brief stop in Japan, where Kerry argued with the primer ministro Yoshihide Suga Japan’s plan for the ecological transition and the rreduction of its emissions by 46% by 2030It was time to see their Chinese counterparts face to face.

This is not an easy time. Relations between the United States and China are going through their biggest crisis in years. Many fronts have open. From a trade war to human rights complaints and technology disputes. But If there is one field in which the two world powers can row together, it is in climate cooperation.

The two actors who sit at the table have a lot to discuss. China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter (representing the 27% of global emissions in 2019), followed by the United States (11%). In the background and not too far away, it is the United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Glasgow in November. There, world leaders will try to agree on efforts to cut emissions and money to help poorer nations prepare for the effects of global warming. And the singing voice will be carried by the two countries that pollute the most.

China and USA They agree on the need for joint climate action, but disagree on the responsibility of each. Washington has asked Beijing to accelerate the phase-out of the use of coal. The latter will be complicated because in the five-year plan approved in March, the Chinese government said that it would continue to allow, even to grow, the consumption of coal, the main source of emissions. Although they excused themselves in being compensated with a much greater investment in solar and wind energy.

As he points out New York Times In one article, signs of altered weather this year – floods in China and Europe, droughts and fires in the western United States, or rains atop an ice sheet in Greenland – have prompted Kerry and his Chinese counterpart to , Xie ZhenhuaThey are committed to reaching an agreement for joint cooperation despite all the problems facing relations between their governments. The two senior officials have spoken a score of times so far this year.

During his stay in China, Kerry shared impressions with the Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng, who conveyed his wish that both countries implement the commitments of the Paris Agreement. The American also spoke by video conference Thursday with the ministro Wang Yi, who warned his interlocutor that the deterioration of relations between the United States and China could undermine cooperation between the two on climate change.

“The US side wants to turn climate cooperation into an oasis in relations between China and the United States. But if the oasis is surrounded by desert, it will soon dry up,” said Wang, who took the opportunity to expose Beijing’s positions, not only on climate change, but also warning that the United States “should stop seeing China as a threat and an opponent, and stop besieging and suppressing China around the world.”

Kerry replied, “Given the science and what’s going on, we’re all going to deal with this for the rest of our lives. This challenge is as great as any we face globally.. And China plays a very critical role. “

According to the US State Department, Kerry took advantage of the meeting with Wang to ask China to do more to reduce its emissions. “The world cannot solve the problem of global warming without the full commitment of China, which must fulfill a responsibility commensurate with its status,” said Kerry.

The United States continues to pressure the Asian country to take more climate action ahead of the UN conference, which expects countries to cut emissions in half over the next decade and achieve net zero carbon emissions by now. limit global warming 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to cap carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve emissions neutrality in 2060. The objective of generating the 20% of the country’s total energy consumption from renewable energy by 2025. These purposes, launched during the UN General Assembly last year, Xi defined them as “China’s green revolution.”

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