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China and US agree to cooperate on climate change

September 2, 2021

China and the US have expressed willingness to cooperate and strengthen dialogue when it comes to tackling climate change. US climate envoy John Kerry is on a visit to China for talks on how to deal with global warming.

Smoke rises from a power plant in eastern China
China is building more coal-fired power plants and setting ambitious climate protection goalsImage: Da Qing/dpa/picture alliance

The US and China appear to be seeking common ground when it comes to tackling global warming.

China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi said Beijing is open to dialogue and cooperation with the US on climate change along with the prevention of diseases and other issues of concern.

Visiting US climate Change envoy John Kerry said the US was in turn willing to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with Beijing.

Yang also made a point of urging the US to "correct wrongdoings" and get bilateral ties back on track.

The comments came after Foreign Minister Wang Yi's earlier warning that backsliding US-China relations could negatively impact working together on areas such as climate change discussions.

Wang told Kerry that cooperation on climate change issues could not be divorced from the larger and complicated matter of US-Chinese relations. 

He added that   joint efforts to combat global warming were an "oasis," but added: "Surrounding the oasis is a desert, and the oasis could be desertified very soon."

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out a statement calling on the United States to take steps to improve ties.

John Kerry at a desk during climate talks in Tianjin, China
China and the United States are the world's two largest pollutersImage: AP Photo/picture alliance

Climate change confab in Tianjin

Kerry, a former US secretary of state and now President Joe Biden's climate change envoy, met with his counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, in the southern city of Tianjin. Kerry said China "plays a super-critical role in fighting climate change," according to a clip aired on China's international state broadcaster CGTN.

For its part, the US State Department reiterated its commitment to seeking global cooperation on this issue of climate change, urging China to take steps to reduce emissions.

China: addicted to coal

China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the US. However, unlike the US, China obtains roughly 60% of its power from coal.

Despite being one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases, China plans to build more coal-fired power plants.

China plans to gradually reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and has set ambitious climate goals.

By 2025, China hopes 20% of the country's total energy consumption will come from renewables. China aspires to be carbon-neutral by 2060.

By contrast, Biden hopes to cut up to 52% of greenhouse emissions by 2030.

kb,ar/sms (AP, Reuters)