update(12:01pm ET): China and the US have failed to reach a climate agreement after Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry pushed Beijing to make more public pledges before a UN climate summit in November.
“China already has its own plans and road map for achieving its climate goals,” an official on the Chinese side was cited in South China Morning Post as saying. The source said further that Beijing wouldn’t tolerate Washington telling it what it should do or not do. SCMP summarized of Kerry’s proposals:
During talks with Chinese leaders in Tianjin, US climate envoy John Kerry presented a list of proposals for Beijing to accelerate its climate efforts. They included a public commitment to the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) limit of global warming targeted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, a definite time frame for carbon emissions to peak before 2030, and a moratorium on financing overseas coal-fired projects.
So there will be no ‘climate agreement’ between the US and China despite Kerry’s efforts in Tianjin, also as it increasingly appears broader tensions such as on trade or human rights are being linked to climate negotiations.
Despite the US long wanting ‘climate diplomacy’ to remain a separate issue apart from its wider disputes with China, such as on trade and human rights, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is now warning deteriorating ties threaten joint efforts to tackle global warming and climate change.
Wang informed Biden’s US climate envoy John Kerry during the latter’s visit to the Chinese city of Tianjin on Thursday that “climate cooperation cannot be separated from the wider environment” of US-China relations.
The Chinese top diplomat likened the potential for close US-China cooperation on climate to an “oasis” and explained, “But surrounding the oasis is a desert, and the oasis could be desertified very soon.”
That’s when he concluded while speaking by video-link: “China-U.S. climate co-operation cannot be separated from the wider environment of China-U.S. relations.”
“Everyone who met with you will have to spend two weeks in quarantine, but we’re willing to pay that price, to discuss co-operation with the U.S. on affairs of mutual concerns,” he was quoted further as saying.
It’s widely perceived that if one side or the other links climate with the broader tensions besetting US-China relations, it would greatly slow any substantive climate action.
Though Wang warned that climate change could now be tied to other diplomatic issues, China has said its efforts to cut emissions and adopt cleaner forms of energy are vital to its ambitious domestic agenda.
“Chinese leaders have long said they are engaged in climate action not because of outside pressure, but because it benefits China and the world at large,” said Alex Wang, a climate expert and professor at UCLA.
And additionally Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission called on the US to“correct its wrongdoings” and make efforts to “bring bilateral ties back on the right track.”
On the US side, Kerry urged China to do more while also vowing willingness to improve communication with China.
“Secretary Kerry affirmed that the United States remains committed to co-operating with the world to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands, and encouraged the PRC to take additional steps to reduce emissions,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.