Scott Morrison – China, US agree on need for stronger climate commitments
The world’s two biggest carbon polluters, the United States and China, have agreed to cooperate with other countries to curb climate change, just days before US President Joe Biden hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss the issue.
- Cooperation between the US and China over climate change is vital given they account for around half the world’s fossil fuel emissions
- John Kerry’s Shanghai trip marks the highest-level travel to China by a US official since Joe Biden took office
- It is unclear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend Mr Biden‘s climate summit next week
The agreement was reached by US special envoy for climate John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua during two days of talks in Shanghai last week, the US State Department said in a statement.
“The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” the joint statement said.
China and the United States pump out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere.
Their cooperation is key to the success of global efforts to curb climate change, but frayed ties over human rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have been threatening to undermine the work.
Mr Kerry’s Shanghai trip marked the highest-level travel to China by a US official since Mr Biden took office in January. From Shanghai, the former secretary of state flew to South Korea for talks.
Mr Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit. Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also invited to attend.
The US and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.
In February, Mr Kerry said the Biden administration was not yet “on the same page” as Australia over climate policy. When Mr Kerry was in Shanghai this week, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng signalled that China was unlikely to make any new pledges at next week’s summit.
“For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered,” Mr Le said.
On whether Mr Xi would join the summit, Mr Le said: “The Chinese side is actively studying the matter.”
China and US ‘firmly committed to working together’
During a video meeting with German and French leaders, Mr Xi also said climate change “should not become a geopolitical chip, a target for attacking other countries or an excuse for trade barriers”, though he called for closer cooperation on the issue, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Mr Biden, who has said fighting global warming is among his highest priorities, had the United States rejoin the Paris climate accord in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the US withdrawal ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Major emitters of greenhouse gases are preparing for the next UN climate summit taking place in Glasgow, UK, in November.
The summit aims to relaunch global efforts to keep rising global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris accord.
According to the US-China statement, the two countries would enhance “their respective actions and [cooperate] in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement”.
It said both countries were “firmly committed to working together and with other Parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement”.