Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has warned the United States that the deterioration of relations between Beijing and Washington could undermine efforts to combat global warming and climate change.
Wang told US climate envoy John Kerry that “climate cooperation cannot be separated from the wider environment” of US-China relations and called on Washington to take active steps to improve relations, according to a press release published Wednesday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Wang said the two sides’ joint efforts on climate change were an “oasis”.
“But the surroundings of the oasis are desert, and the oasis could be deserted very soon,” he said via video link. Climate cooperation “cannot continue without an improvement in bilateral relations,” he added, urging the United States to “stop seeing China as a threat and a rival” and “stop containing and to suppress China all over the world ”.
Kerry, who is in the Chinese city of Tianjin for climate talks, told Wang that the United States remains committed to working with other countries to tackle climate change, according to the US State Department. .
The climate crisis “must be treated with the seriousness and the urgency that it demands”, he declared while encouraging China to “take additional measures to reduce emissions”.
The United States, which has resumed its role in global climate diplomacy after a four-year hiatus under President Donald Trump, has long hoped to separate climate issues from its broader disputes with China on issues such as trade. , human rights and the origins of the covid pandemic19.
Kerry is in Tianjin to meet face-to-face with Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate special envoy, on the countries’ joint response to the climate crisis. The former US secretary of state called for increased efforts to limit rising temperatures to below 1.5 ° C (34.7 ° F) above pre-industrial levels, and urged China to join in the United States to urgently reduce carbon emissions.
The Tianjin meeting is the second to be held between Kerry and Xie, with the first taking place in Shanghai in April. Kerry has no mandate to discuss anything outside of climate change issues.
Climate watchers hope the talks will lead to more ambitious commitments from the two countries to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States.
“The G2 (China and the United States) must realize that beyond their bilateral oasis and desert, the entire planet is at stake,” said Li Shuo, senior advisor for the climate within the environmental group Greenpeace.
“If they don’t make joint climate progress fast enough, everything will soon be desert,” he added.
Although Wang warned that climate change could now be linked to other diplomatic issues, China has insisted that its efforts to reduce emissions and switch to cleaner forms of energy are a critical part of its own ambitious domestic policy agenda.
“Chinese leaders have said for a long time that they are engaged in climate action not because of external pressure, but because it benefits China and the world in general,” said Alex Wang, climate expert and professor. at UCLA.
“If so, the US-China tensions should not slow down Chinese climate action.”
The world’s largest user of coal, China derives about 60% of its electricity from coal. It plans to build more coal-fired power plants, but still plans to reduce its use of fossil fuels.
China has set a target of generating 20% of the country’s total energy consumption from renewables by 2025 and reducing total emissions from 2030.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping wants China to become carbon neutral by 2060.
US President Joe Biden has announced his goal of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030, double the target set by former President Barack Obama in the deal of Paris on the 2015 climate.
Global decarbonization efforts will be highlighted at a United Nations conference to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in late November, known as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP26.