US and China agree to work together on climate change

John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, at the White House in Washington, January 27, 2021. (Photo: NYTimes)
SEOUL, South Korea — The United States and China have agreed to fight climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands” by stepping up efforts to reduce carbon emissions, a rare demonstration of cooperation amid escalating tensions over a raft of other issues.اضافة اعلان

The agreement, which included few specific commitments, was announced Saturday night, Washington time, after President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, visited China for three days of talks in which the negotiators managed not to be sidetracked by those disputes.

“It’s very important for us to try to keep those other things away, because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world,” Kerry said in an interview Sunday morning in Seoul, where he met with South Korean officials to discuss global warming.

The agreement comes only days before Biden is scheduled to hold a virtual climate summit with world leaders. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is among those who have been invited to take part.

Kerry met in Shanghai with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, over three days. Kerry said they stayed focused on climate change and did not touch on increasingly rancorous disputes over issues like China’s political crackdown in Hong Kong and its threats toward Taiwan.

On Friday, even as the envoys met, the State Department criticized prison sentences handed down in Hong Kong to pro-democracy leaders, including Jimmy Lai, a newspaper tycoon. On the same day, China warned the United States and Japan against “collusion” as Biden met at the White House with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, with China’s rising ambitions one of the issues on the table.

In the joint statement with the United States, the Chinese government pledged to do more on climate, although without detailing any specific steps.

The statement said that both countries would develop “long-term strategies” to reach carbon neutrality — the point when a country emits no more carbon than it removes from the atmosphere — before the next international climate conference in November, in Glasgow, Scotland.

In a joint statement after the White House meetings between Biden and Suga, the United States and Japan said they intended to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 by promoting renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and storage, and through innovations in capturing and recycling carbon from the atmosphere.

Xi pledged last year that China would reach carbon neutrality by 2060 and that its emissions would peak before 2030.

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