Relations between China and the United States have been in the spotlight since the inauguration of new U.S. President Joe Biden, whose administration has made it clear that there are areas where the two sides need to work together, and climate is one of them.
US climate envoy John Kerry said on Wednesday the US would try to separate climate talks with China from other differences affecting relations between the two countries and pressed Beijing to come up with details of its carbon-neutral plan.
President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, the former secretary of state, stressed that while the US alone could not curb global temperature rise, aggressive domestic policies would have a “huge impact”.
“As far as China is concerned, obviously we have serious differences with China on some very, very important issues,” he said.
“For example, intellectual property theft and access to markets, issues like the South China Sea, we all know about these issues,” said Kerry.
“These issues will never be interchanged with anything to do with climate,” he said. “It’s not going to happen. But climate is a key independent issue that we have to address.”
China accounts for 30 per cent of global emissions and the US 15 per cent, he added.
“So it is imperative that we find a way to compartmentalize the issues so that we can move forward,” Mr Kerry said.
Mr. Kerry also noted that China’s carbon-neutral targets needed to be fleshed out in detail, while urging countries to do more to reduce their emissions.
“The Chinese have said they’re going to do something by 2060, but we don’t yet know how they’re going to get there,” Mr. Kerry said, noting that China continues to support coal-fired power plants. He added that he hoped the US could “work with China”.
Last year, the Chinese government pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2060, and the country aims to reduce carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by more than 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
China has called for a reset in relations with Mr Biden’s administration after a period of corrosive diplomacy under Donald Trump. Trump has berated Beijing over issues such as trade, rights, the origin of 2019 coronavirus disease, technology and defense hegemony.
Mr Biden said he would remain tough on his superpower rivals but toned down his tone after Mr Trump’s divisive “America First” policy and committed to international co-operation.