US, China Envoys Aim to Revive Climate Diplomacy

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry testifies before a House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee hearing on the State Department’s climate budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 13, 2023.

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States’ climate envoy John Kerry arrived at the Beijing Hotel in the Chinese capital on Monday for talks with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, with the two sides aiming to rebuild trust following a suspension in talks last year.

As delegates representing the world’s top two greenhouse gas emitters gathered in a conference room overlooking Beijing’s Forbidden City on Monday morning, Xie said the two climate envoys could play a role in improving U.S.-China relations.

Kerry said it was “imperative that China and the United States make real progress” in the four months before the COP28 global climate talks in Dubai begin.

He also urged China to partner with the U.S. to cut methane emissions and reduce the climate impact of coal-fired power.

“In the next three days we hope we can begin taking some big steps that will send a signal to the world about the serious purpose of China and the United States to address a common risk, threat, challenge to all of humanity created by humans themselves,” Kerry said.

This week’s meetings, which will continue until Wednesday, will have no formal schedule but are expected to focus on the abatement of methane and other non-CO2 emissions, as well as the run-up to COP28.

Kerry’s third visit to China as U.S. climate envoy marks the formal resumption in top-level climate diplomacy between the two countries. The former Secretary of State is the third U.S. official to visit Beijing in recent weeks as China and the U.S. aim to stabilize their broader bilateral relationship.

“Yesterday after we met each other, I did a little calculation,” Xie said. “I counted that since the two of us have been appointed special envoys, we have met 53 times.”

Talks were suspended last year following the visit of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a democratically governed island that China claims.