Would world’s top carbon emitters put tensions aside at climate talks?
US Climate Envoy John Kerry has called for more rapid action against the climate emergency in a high-profile China trip, amid both countries experiencing record heatwaves and Kerry dealing with strong opposition back home from Republicans.
In Focus: China’s Renewable Energy Sector And Reliance On Coal
Kerry’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua represents the first substantive summit between the world’s two largest emitters on the climate crisis since relations were frozen last August over then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taiwan.
2023 is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded. The envoy called for rapid and significant progress, highlighting the need to “come together to take action”. He acknowledged Beijing’s noteworthy focus on renewable energy, but underscored the use of coal as well.
Joe Biden’s administration hopes China could act more rapidly to reduce its emissions, particularly from coal and methane. Although the two countries share unresolved grievances, they are expected to put the tensions aside at the three-day climate discussions.
Washington Won’t Support Developing Nations With ‘Climate Reparations’
US’s troubled relationship with China isn’t the only factor imposing pressure on Biden’s climate agenda. Critics at home and in other developing countries are in the limelight too. Last week, Kerry faced intense questioning from a Republican-dominated House committee that demanded that he hold China to account for its human rights abuses and for not cutting emissions quickly.
The envoy recently attracted fierce criticism from campaigners for his response to a question over whether the US would offer developing countries affected by extreme weather events “climate reparations”. He said: “No, under no circumstances.”
Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, compared the situation to a millionaire crashing their Ferrari into someone’s house and then refusing to pay for the damage. While the Biden administration supports a “loss and damage” fund, it has ruled out accepting any sort of liability that would leave it open to legal jeopardy.