US and China commit to cooperating over climate change crisis

WASHINGTON: The US and China are "committed to cooperating" on the pressing issue of climate change, the two sides said on Saturday, issuing the pledge days ahead of a key summit hosted by President Joe Biden.

The joint statement came after a trip to Shanghai by US climate envoy John Kerry, the first official from Mr Biden's administration to visit China, signalling hopes the two sides could work together on the global challenge despite sky-high tensions on multiple other fronts.

But to achieve the climate goal, Mr Kerry said words must be put into action and urged China to cut the use of coal.

"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," said the statement from Mr Kerry and China's special envoy for climate change, Mr Xie Zhenhua.

It listed multiple avenues of climate cooperation between the world's top two economies, which together account for nearly half of the greenhouse gas emissions. It stressed "enhancing their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement".

Both countries also "look forward" to a virtual climate summit of world leaders that Mr Biden will host next week, though the statement did not say if Chinese President Xi Jinping would attend.

"We very much hope he will take part," Mr Kerry said yesterday.

"Of course, every country will make its own decisions," he said, adding: "We are not seeking to force anybody. We are seeking cooperation."

China has about half of the world's coal power, Mr Kerry said, adding that he "talked a lot" about it with officials in Shanghai.

"I am not pointing fingers," said Mr Kerry. "We've had too much coal, other countries have too much coal, but China is the biggest, biggest coal user."

Mr Biden has made climate a top priority. He re-entered the US into the 2015 Paris accord, which committed nations to taking action to keep the temperature from rising no more than 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels. - AFP