Climate Talks: A Turning Point in US-China Relations
During his three-day visit to China, US Climate Envoy John Kerry emphasized the transformative potential of climate cooperation for the strained US-China relationship. He addressed senior Chinese officials, articulating his vision of a redefined partnership in the face of global warming. Kerry's visit comes amidst a wave of extreme weather worldwide, including record-high temperatures in the US and China.
Kerry Addresses Climate Crisis in High-level Meetings
In his dialogue with China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, Kerry expressed hope for a fresh approach to cooperation and conflict resolution. He also addressed Premier Li Qiang, warning of an intensifying climate crisis, as illustrated by recent temperature records in both the US and China's Xinjiang region. Despite initial skepticism from Li regarding the Xinjiang temperature record, the severity of the climate impacts on China and globally was later acknowledged during the meeting.
Major Disputes Overshadowing Climate Cooperation
Despite Kerry's optimism, significant areas of disagreement persist between the two nations. These disagreements focus primarily on climate financing, China's coal consumption, and the mitigation of methane—a potent greenhouse gas.
Potential for a Fresh Start Amid Diplomatic Tensions
Kerry communicated to Wang the possibility of a new beginning for the US-China relationship, which has been strained due to issues over Taiwan and trade. He expressed hope that the climate talks could lead to broader changes in their relations. Both Kerry and Wang reflected on their past collaboration, including on the Iran nuclear talks, reinforcing the potential for effective dialogue.
Long Hours and Tough Negotiations in Beijing
Kerry met his counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, for nearly 12 hours at the Beijing Hotel. The rigorous talks, praised by Wang for their "hard work," aim to negotiate through contentious issues and continue from where the previous discussions ended.
Resumption of Top-level Climate Diplomacy: A Step Forward
This visit, Kerry's third as US Climate Envoy, signals a formal resumption of high-level climate diplomacy between the two nations. Despite Kerry's efforts to separate climate issues from broader diplomatic disputes, Wang insisted in a previous meeting in 2021 that these concerns were intertwined. Kerry remains hopeful, however, urging both nations to lead in overcoming climate challenges, a step that the world eagerly awaits.