Xi Jinping Biden USA China

File Photo: China and the US have rediscovered a common interest in battling climate change. Photograph: Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty Images

China’s Xi Jinping to attend Joe Biden’s climate summit is a major, welcome news that comes amid continued anti- China stance of the Biden administration. Virtual summit on April 22 Thursday will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office.  India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also joining the meet.

Biden has invited dozens of world leaders to join the two-day virtual summit starting on Thursday, after bringing the US back into the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting global carbon emissions.

China responded, saying, “Its return is by no means a glorious comeback but rather a truant getting back to class.” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying Hua was quoted by AFP.

Xi will attend the summit via video and will deliver an “important” speech, Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement on April 21,Wednesday.

The US envoy and Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng held virtual talks during the former’s trip to Shanghai. Kerry is the first official from the current administration to visit China, signalling hopes that the two powers can work together on the global challenge

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua met in Shanghai on April 15 and 16, 2021, to discuss aspects of the climate crisis. Following the thaw, China accepted the invitation.

“China welcomes the US return to the Paris agreement, and expects the US side to uphold the agreement, shoulder its due responsibilities and make due contributions,” Han said after virtual talks with Kerry, who visited Shanghai where he met his Chinese counterpart, AFP reported last week, 17 Apr, 2021:

China said on April 16 Friday that the United States needed to take more responsibility on climate change but welcomed greater cooperation after a visit by envoy John Kerry, according to China’s state media. It  signals hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.

“China attaches importance to carrying out dialogue and cooperation on climate change with the US side,” said Vice-Premier Han Zheng, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying was more blunt on Twitter as she highlighted the US withdrawal from the Paris accord under former president Donald Trump. “Its return is by no means a glorious comeback but rather a truant getting back to class,” Hua said of the United States.


U.S.-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis

At the conclusion of the discussion, the two Special Envoys released the following joint statement, April 17, 2021, US officially released. The two countries “are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands,” said the statement.

Begin text:

  1. The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands. This includes both enhancing their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Both countries recall their historic contribution to the development, adoption, signature, and entry into force of the Paris Agreement through their leadership and collaboration.
  2. Moving forward, the United States and China are firmly committed to working together and with other Parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement. The two sides recall the Agreement’s aim in accordance with Article 2 to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees C. In that regard, they are committed to pursuing such efforts, including by taking enhanced climate actions that raise ambition in the 2020s in the context of the Paris Agreement with the aim of keeping the above temperature limit within reach and cooperating to identify and address related challenges and opportunities.
  3. Both countries look forward to the US-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22/23. They share the Summit’s goal of raising global climate ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and support on the road to COP 26 in Glasgow.
  4. The United States and China will take other actions in the short term to further contribute to addressing the climate crisis:
  • a.  Both countries intend to develop by COP 26 in Glasgow their respective long-term strategies aimed at net zero GHG emissions/carbon neutrality.
  • b.  Both countries intend to take appropriate actions to maximize international investment and finance in support of the transition from carbon-intensive fossil fuel based energy to green, low-carbon and renewable energy in developing countries.
  • c.  They will each implement the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon production and consumption reflected in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
  • 5 The United States and China will continue to discuss, both on the road to COP 26 and beyond, concrete actions in the 2020s to reduce emissions aimed at keeping the Paris Agreement-aligned temperature limit within reach, including:
  • a.  Policies, measures, and technologies to decarbonize industry and power, including through circular economy, energy storage and grid reliability, CCUS, and green hydrogen;
  • b.  Increased deployment of renewable energy;
  • c.  Green and climate resilient agriculture;
  • d.  Energy efficient buildings;
  • e.  Green, low-carbon transportation;
  • f.  Cooperation on addressing emissions of methane and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases;
  • g.  Cooperation on addressing emissions from international civil aviation and maritime activities; and
  • h.  Other near-term policies and measures, including with respect to reducing emissions from coal, oil, and gas
  • 6. The two sides will cooperate to promote a successful COP 26 in Glasgow, aiming to complete the implementation arrangements for the Paris Agreement (e.g., under Article 6 and Article 13) and to significantly advance global climate ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and support. They will further cooperate to promote a successful COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, noting the importance of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, including its relevance to climate mitigation and adaptation.


China build bridges with France and Germany

China will keep its word on climate agreements, Xi tells Merkel, Macron, agencies reported, on April 17, in a video summit. It marked a break by France and Germany, weakening US bid to  target China.

German chancellor Merkel She pressed the United States to “offer how it will make up for the lost four years”, including payments to the UN-backed Green Climate Fund, which provides support to developing countries worst hit by climate change.

During a video meeting with German and French leaders Friday, Xi said that climate change “should not become a geopolitical chip, a target for attacking other countries or an excuse for trade barriers,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

If the United States refuses to work with China on climate because of other disagreements, “you’re just killing yourself”, Kerry told CNN before his trip to Shanghai, in a reversal of Trump policy. Biden continued ant-China tirade in the name of human rights citing Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. China rejected it as interference in its internal affairs, but acted in a responsible manner on Climate crisis.

apnews.com reported from Seoul:

Meeting with reporters in Seoul on April 18 Sunday, Kerry said the language in the statement is “strong” and that the two countries agreed on “critical elements on where we have to go.” But the former secretary of state said, “I learned in diplomacy that you don’t put your back on the words, you put on actions. We all need to see what happens.”

China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, followed by the United States. The two countries pump out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere. China’s largest  population, and US refusal to extend equipment and technical cooperation, have been a problem for china.

While Kerry was still in Shanghai, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng signaled Friday that China is unlikely to make any new pledges at next week’s summit.

“For a big country with 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easily delivered,” Le said during an interview with The Associated Press in Beijing. “Some countries are asking China to achieve the goals earlier. I am afraid this is not very realistic.”

Their cooperation is key to the success of global efforts to curb climate change, but frayed ties over human rights, trade and China’s territorial claims to Taiwan and the South China Sea have been threatening to undermine such efforts.

Noting that China is the world’s biggest coal user, Kerry said he and Chinese officials had a lot of discussions on how to accelerate a global energy transition. “I have never shied away from expressing our views shared by many, many people that it is imperative to reduce coal, everywhere,” he said.

Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit. The U.S. and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.

Biden, who has said that fighting global warming is among his highest priorities, had the United States rejoin the historic 2015 Paris climate accord in the first hours of his presidency, undoing the U.S. withdrawal ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Major emitters of greenhouse gases are preparing for the next U.N. climate summit taking place in Glasgow, U.K., in November. The summit aims to relaunch global efforts to keep rising global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) as agreed in the Paris accord.

According to the U.S.-China statement, the two countries would enhance “their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.”

It said both countries also intend to develop their respective long-term strategies before the Glasgow conference and take “appropriate actions to maximize international investment and finance in support of” the energy transition in developing countries.


China vows carbon neutrality by 2060 during one-day UN biodiversity summit

Xi announced last year that China would be carbon-neutral by 2060 and aims to reach a peak in its emissions by 2030, taking nine years from now.  The pace is much faster than US that can and should do better, but refuses to while blaming China.

In March, China’s Communist Party pledged to reduce carbon emissions per unit of economic output by 18% over the next five years, in line with its goal for the previous five-year period.

Biden has pledged the U.S. will switch to an emissions-free power sector within 14 years, and have an entirely emissions-free economy by 2050. Kerry is also pushing other nations to commit to carbon neutrality by then.


China-US climate cooperation : Kerry invite shows China’s climate governance ambition

It was China that took the initiative despite Biden’s continued anti-China stance. By inviting US climate envoy John Kerry to Shanghai to discuss climate issues, China has demonstrated its ambition in global climate governance, and also sent a signal to the US that climate negotiations between the two countries are on equal terms, and that China is not and won’t be the “attendant” of US-centered climate campaign, Chinese observers commented earlier on Apr 14, Wednesday. China continued its commitment even when US backed out of its own.

Kerry’s visit to Shanghai at China’s invitation will allow the two sides to exchange views on climate change cooperation, the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other issues, Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in an official statement on April 14.

By sending an olive branch to Washington on climate cooperation talks, Beijing has demonstrated its ambition to lead global climate change issues, and also sent a signal to the US that cooperation in this field will be based on equal terms, Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times, noting that “China is not an attendant of the US climate change campaign.”

Kerry has already visited multiple countries in his capacity as Biden’s envoy for climate matters. In March, he met with European officials in London, Brussels and Paris. This month, he visited the United Arab Emirates, India and Bangladesh. He will also head to Seoul after his Shanghai visit.

Seoul’s appearance on Kerry’s agenda is simply because it has been active in cooperating with other countries (read China) in the fight against climate change, said experts.

Biden has invited 17 countries responsible for about 80 percent of global emissions to next week’s summit, according to the White House, noting it would push those countries toward greater commitments to lowering emissions.

Chinese observers called Washington’s move as “trying to form a US-centered climate cooperation circle” in order to shore up its leadership on global issues.

However, China has now shouldered the responsibility of global climate governance, as the US’ frequent departure and then return to global cooperation on this issue has marred global cooperation and diminished other countries efforts, said Li.

Before his departure for Shanghai, Kerry told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that his team is committed to finding ways to force China to be accountable for pledges it makes in continuing negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Last week, during a diplomatic trip to India, Kerry told reporters he was “hopeful [but] not confident at this point” about Chinese cooperation.

But China’s invite and joining the summit belied US propaganda.

As a matter of fact, the US is the saboteur of climate issues as its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has dealt a heavy blow to global climate cooperation and governance on climate issues, Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times on April 14.

He noted that the opportunity for the two countries to cooperate has turned ripe, as China announced ambitious targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2060 while the US is working out a plan to decarbonize itself in 30 years..

The success of Biden’s climate summit, as well as international cooperation to reduce carbon emissions, cannot be achieved without the cooperation and consensus of China and the US, said Ma, suggesting the US put aside its prejudice first and work on establishing mutual trust with China in this field.

Kerry is the first senior official from the Biden administration to visit China. The visit comes as the two countries are locked in clashes over trade, human rights and the Taiwan question, and is viewed by some observers as an ice-thawing signal.

Yet Chinese observers doubted this cooperation will drive bilateral ties out of their plight and lead to collaboration in other fields, as the visit will solely focus on climate issues.

Li also said that considering the current US political atmosphere, cooperation on climate change will be hard to change bilateral relations. “Yet a face-to-face negotiation on pragmatic issues is better than no contact at all. If anything positive comes out of Kerry’s visit, it will still be critical to China-US relations,” he noted.

“The climate issue is a free-standing issue. It’s not for trade against the other critical differences that we have with China right now,” Kerry told the Wall Street Journal.

Kerry’s visit to China and South Korea also comes at a sensitive time when Japan’s decision to dump radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean angered Beijing and Seoul. The US indulgence of Japan’s decision also invited itself waves of condemnation from Japan’s two neighbors.

“The radioactive water dumping incident will overshadow Kerry’s visit to those two Asian countries. US indulgence on Japan showed the selfish intentions of Washington’s Asia-Pacific policy, which is to put its narrow-minded strategic interests above the interests of the people from the region and even global human health and safety,” Li Haidong said.

Li noted that the US must show sincerity not to let Washington’s narrow-mindedness and hypocritical geopolitical competition mentality override cooperation on climate and environment issues; otherwise, it will be hard to form a concrete climate cooperation campaign with China and South Korea.

China’s leading English daily, Global Times, Apr 14, 2021, published a graphic, given below, indicating China’s earnestness and the tasks before US and china, and how they can cooperate.


How can China and US cooperate on climate change? Graphic:Feng Qingyin/GT

Apr 14, 2021 https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202104/1221028.shtml

Hegemonistic politics behind US moves

China brought out the hegemonistic politics behind US moves, and the issues involved, as can be seen in a frank, lead Editorial of Global Times, Apr 14, given below:

China-US climate cooperation set in toxic environment

At China’s invitation, US climate envoy John Kerry will visit China from April 17 Wednesday to Saturday. He will be the first high-ranking US official to visit the Chinese mainland since July 2019. He is scheduled to meet with Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy on climate change, in Shanghai and is likely to have meetings with other Chinese officials.

The US stressed that its relationship with China “will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.”

The climate change issue is one of the few areas where the US has a high willingness to work with China right now. The reason is simple: Without China’s cooperation, none of the Biden administration’s climate ambitions can be achieved. As a result, Kerry has decided to come to China.

However, Kerry’s visit is clearly not an icebreaker in China-US relations.

The US attitude is to completely separate China-US cooperation from the competition and confrontation between the two countries. Cooperation with China is not aimed at improving China-US relations, but rather a separate project to advance the US’ own interests.

In the case of climate change, US President Joe Biden wants not only to make some achievements during his presidency but also to win over his European allies by pressing the issue ahead, which in turn is aimed at strengthening the alliance system to deal with China.

So although dealing with climate change is a common mission of all humanity, the Biden administration is trying to use China to promote the US’ own interests and further contain China by strengthening its alliance system. They are thinking of a deal in which China one-sidedly fulfills its obligation and the US gains from that unilaterally.

In this regard, Kerry’s visit is a good thing. But it is also complex as it brings challenges.

We believe that China should just let this complexity be. We welcome Kerry’s visit, but we should not expect too much from it.

We should follow our own established plans and commitments to the international community to work with the Biden administration on this matter. We should never make compromises that would undermine China’s own interests.

China has already committed to striving to achieve a peak in carbon emissions by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The country has included these goals in its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives through the year 2035. Whether Kerry comes or not, China will stick to this goal.

We welcome the Biden administration’s decision to restore a positive approach to climate change issues. And we are glad to see China and the US work together to promote the UN climate plan and coordinate their domestic policies accordingly.

By playing more of a “leadership role,” the US wants to force China to further concede and make China and other countries do more of their obligations, which is also what China should not accept. Washington lacks both the moral basis and the practical power to dictate to Beijing on climate change issues.

Since we want to cooperate on these issues, the US should show its sincerity. It should give up its strategic calculations.

However, contrary to the olive branch extended by Kerry, Washington has just included seven Chinese supercomputing companies in its list of entities. Climate change issues require a lot of technical input, and weather monitoring is one of the areas where supercomputing is most widely used. It is not very genuine to call for cooperation while having a stranglehold on China’s technology in this sphere.

In fact, China-US relations are intertwined. It’s unrealistic to hope that the two countries could establish some “special zones” to reinforce cooperation after their relationship is messed up. For instance, against the backdrop of China-US confrontation, both sides have lost their basic trust of each other and are concerned that the other side would set traps. It would be luxurious if either side could do its best to promote cooperation in a certain field.

The Biden administration is pushing a climate deal, but the deal may be dumped after the leadership change in the White House in a few years – this is China’s concern.

Washington is seeking to negotiate a deal with China, but its real purpose might not be only about climate change.

Washington also has doubts over whether Beijing has something else on its mind when talking with Washington on climate change. When representatives of both sides sit together and look at each other, their feelings and confidence must be very different from when bilateral relations were sound.

Nonetheless, representatives of the two countries should be encouraged to have earnest talks. It’s better to have one more point of cooperation than having one more point of conflict in the China-US relations.

After all, the bilateral relationship is not all about strategy, it is a set of various exchanges. Whoever can push the bilateral relationship forward a little should be commended.

Thus ended the editorial. China’s acceptance, with Xi Jinping himself deciding to attend the virtual summit, despite US scheming, demonsrated its earnestness, self-confidence, and commitment.

Much before the Kerry visit, China took the lead

Much before the Kerry visit, China took the lead in conferring with European powers, and declaring its commitment and blue print on climate issues, as can be seen in this report by Global Times, Mar 24, 2021, titled Climate cooperation between China, West not affected by tension: observers:

March 23 conference, known as the Ministerial on Climate Action, is an annual meeting set up by China, the European Union and Canada in 2017, and 40 ministerial representatives including John Kerry, the US special envoy on climate issues, attended the meeting.

China will adopt more effective policies and measures to implement the goal of controlling carbon dioxide emissions and it expects the US to catch up following its return to the Paris agreement, according to China’s climate officials at a virtual climate conference on March 23 Tuesday.

Despite recent tension, there is still much potential for China and Western countries to come together and engage on climate issues, observers said.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate envoy, pointed out in his speech that the international community should further strengthen unity and jointly deal with the challenge of climate change as the Paris agreement has entered a critical stage.

“All parties should adhere to multilateralism, work together to promote sustainable development, gather political consensus for the success of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, and promote the comprehensive, balanced and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Xie said.

In his speech Xie welcomed the US’ return to the Paris agreement and said he expected the US to catch up and fulfill its role in the climate issue.

The event signaled that there is still huge potential for collaboration between China and the US and EU on climate change, despite the recent tensions, Zou Ji, president of Energy Foundation China, told the Global Times on March 24 Wednesday.

The virtual meeting comes on the heels of talks last week in Alaska and EU sanctions on China over Xinjiang.

“Climate has emerged as a promising area for collaboration for China and the US, where both countries have more in common than differences. As the bilateral relations face tension, both sides could seek cooperation [in this area],” he said. “It is expected China and the US could carry out exchange and dialogues from the technology perspective.”

Tackling climate change and minimizing its effects is a priority for the EU and with China’s commitment toward carbon neutrality there are great prospects for all-round cooperation between the two sides, Yang Fuqiang, a senior advisor on climate and energy with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Beijing-based consultancy, told the Global Times on March 24.

Regarding China-US climate cooperation, Yang said he expected inter-regional cooperation between enterprises and business sectors following a signal from high-level leaders of the two countries.

Last September, China made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, with emissions peaking before 2030.

Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu said that China will step up its efforts to control emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases, accelerate the construction and operation of the national carbon market, vigorously promote the innovation and application of low-carbon technologies, and continuously promote the comprehensive green transformation of economic and social development.

From 2005 to 2020, China’s GDP increased 4.5 times while the carbon intensity dropped by 48.4 percent, and the proportion of non-fossil fuel energy has increased from 7.4 percent to 15.9 percent, exceeding the country’s climate targets, Huang said.




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One Comment

  1. S. N. Murthy Ch says:

    An important international development which further proves that the world geopolitical climate is only in favour of multilateralism, with China in a guiding position and that there would be no space for US hegemonism.