US seeks major climate change deal with China ahead of summit

14 April 2021, 08:51

US climate envoy John Kerry will head to China this week
US climate envoy John Kerry will head to China this week. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The US is seeking a major climate deal with China ahead of President Joe Biden's climate summit of world leaders.

Talks between two of the world's largest carbon emitters will be led by US climate envoy John Kerry, who is heading to Shanghai and Seoul from Wednesday to Saturday, the State Department said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The talks are the biggest so far for officials of the Biden administration.

The former secretary of state is expected to talk with China's top climate negotiator, fellow veteran diplomat Xie Zhenhua.

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The governments of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Biden are sparring over trade, human rights within China and the Far East country's increasingly assertive actions in the larger Indo-Pacific, among other points of tension.

But China is the largest contributor by far of climate-damaging fumes from burning petroleum and coal, making its cooperation essential to any success of global climate accords.

China and the US are two of the biggest carbon emitters on Earth
China and the US are two of the biggest carbon emitters on Earth. Picture: PA Images

Mr Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, to participate in a virtual climate summit on April 22 and 23.

The US and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.

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Mr Kerry has been pressing global leaders in person and over the internet ahead of the summit for commitments and alliances on climate efforts.

Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 UN Paris climate accords as one of his first actions.

That makes the April summit the first major international climate discussions by a US leader in more than four years, although leaders in Europe and elsewhere have kept up talks.