SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi has warned the United States that political tensions between Beijing and Washington could undermine the efforts of the two main global sources of greenhouse gases to cooperate in the fight against climate change.
The Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister told US Climate Envoy John Kerry by video link on Wednesday that the joint efforts of the two sides to fight global warming were an “oasis,” according to a statement from the United States. Ministry of Foreign Affairs released Wednesday evening.
“But the surroundings of the oasis are desert, and the oasis could be deserted very soon,” he said. “Sino-US climate cooperation cannot be separated from the larger environment of Sino-US relations.
“We have shown our sincerity,” Wang said, quoted by state broadcaster CCTV. “Everyone who has met you will have to spend two weeks in quarantine, but we are prepared to pay that price, to discuss cooperation with the United States on matters of mutual interest.”
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Kerry told Wang that Washington remains committed to working with other countries to tackle the climate crisis and encouraged China to do more to reduce emissions during the meeting, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said. State.
Secretary Kerry asserted that the United States remains committed to cooperating with the world to address the climate crisis, which must be treated with the seriousness and urgency it demands, and urged the PRC to take action. additional measures to reduce emissions, ”the spokesperson said. .
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-19 pandemic.
Kerry is in Tianjin, northern China, to speak in person with Xie Zhenhua, China’s climate special envoy, on the countries’ joint response to the climate crisis.
Climate watchers hope the talks will lead to more ambitious commitments from the two countries to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
“The G2 (China and the United States) must realize that beyond their bilateral oases and deserts, the entire planet is at stake,” said Li Shuo, senior climate advisor at the group. environmental Greenpeace.
“If they don’t make joint climate progress fast enough, everything will soon be desert,” he added.
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.
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.”
(Additional reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Jacqueline Wong)
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