In yet another sign that both sides are making efforts to halt the downward spiral in China-US relations, John Kerry, US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate change, is reportedly scheduled to visit China next week to restart global warming negotiations between the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters.
The planned trip to China, Kerry’s third as climate envoy, comes after visits by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week, which have helped stabilize bilateral ties. Kerry is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua and discuss with him about “climate cooperation”, as well as collaborative efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to Bloomberg. The meeting could also set a backdrop for the upcoming UN climate conference in the United Arab Emirates in November.
China and the US, as the two largest investors in clean energy, have played an irreplaceable role in the fight against global warming, and their previous cooperation on climate change has helped make global breakthroughs such as the 2015 Paris Agreement possible. Their separate climate ambitions — China has set a target of hitting peak emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060, while the US has pledged to cut up to 52 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 — will to a large extent determine whether the world as a whole will succeed in the attempt to prevent global temperatures from continuously rising.
Yet the deteriorating Sino-US relations, caused by frictions over trade, technology and human rights, have unfortunately compromised cooperation between the two countries on climate change. Beijing had to suspend climate talks with the US in August last year when Nancy Pelosi, then US House speaker, visited Taiwan despite repeated warnings from Beijing, which insisted that climate cooperation cannot be separated from the broader relationship.
That Sino-US ties have started to stabilize, and that Kerry and Xie have established a productive working relationship dating back to the Barack Obama administration, have raised expectations that progress can be made during Kerry’s upcoming China visit.
“We need genuine cooperation,” as Kerry once said in an interview. As the two largest economies and also the two largest emitters, China and the US have a special responsibility to find common ground in jointly addressing climate change, which would be a boon for the world at a time when the highest global temperatures are being recorded in much of the planet.
Editorial, China Daily