Climate envoys of China and the United States are sitting down in Tianjin for their second face-to-face discussion on mutual actions to address climate change. Experts said both countries made climate change mitigation a top priority and their cooperation is closely linked with bilateral relations as a whole.
US climate envoy John Kerry was the first senior member of the Biden administration visiting China in April. This Tianjin talk with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua is the second one in five months, signaling the gravity of climate change issue in both governments’ national strategies. Experts agree prospects for cooperation for a low carbon future are promising despite overall China-US relations being at a low ebb.
Climate change holds a unique and significant position in bilateral ties, Zou Ji, CEO and president of the Energy Foundation China, told the People’s Daily.
Since US President Joe Biden took office, senior officials of the two countries have been conducting relatively smoother and deeper communications on the climate change issue, where both countries have more common ground and incentive to cooperate, Zou told the People’s Daily.
Kerry’s visit comes just weeks ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow in November, where nations will be brought together to coordinate actions toward the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The two countries declared both will cooperate to promote a successful COP 26 after climate officials concluded a meeting in April, and the Tianjin meeting is expected to seek solid progress for COP 26 targets.
In July, Kerry’s senior adviser Jonathan Pershing told US lawmakers that climate change cooperation with China will be a “standalone” issue. However, it’s unlikely that efforts for common climate actions can be insulated from China-US tensions.
The approaches to green growth goals involve multiple sectors, ranging from politics, economics, technology and trade, said Yang Fuqiang, a research fellow with Peking University's Energy Institute. The European Commission last month proposed the world’s first carbon border tax on imports of some carbon-intensive products, as part of a program to meet its new climate target.
“For the current situation, both China and the United States have shown strong willingness for cooperation and they are able to reach a consensus and manage differences,” Xu Qinhua, Vice Dean of the National Academy of Development and Strategy of Renmin University of China, told the People’s Daily.