World

US envoy Kerry starts climate talks in China

  • The US consulate said Kerry arrived in China and will meet with his Chinese counterparts at a Shanghai hotel in a day of closed-door talks.
Published April 15, 2021

SHANGHAI: US climate envoy John Kerry met with his Chinese counterparts in Shanghai on Thursday, in the first visit to China by an official from a Biden administration seeking to re-establish America's leadership on the environment.

The trip is seen as a chance to put aside high political tensions -- following a heated initial meeting last month between diplomats in the US -- and focus on areas of potential climate collaboration.

The two sides clashed in Alaska over accusations about China's policies in Hong Kong and its treatment of Uyghurs in the northwestern Xinjiang region, criticisms China rejects as interference in its domestic affairs.

In Shanghai, officials are expected to discuss environmental challenges, areas which both China and the US say are top priorities, as well as the upcoming UN-led climate talks to be held in Glasgow at the end of the year.

President Joe Biden has made scuttling the climate-sceptic policy of his predecessor Donald Trump a priority.

He has rejoined the 2015 Paris accord, and is hosting a virtual summit of world leaders next week which the US hopes will result in stronger climate pledges.

China's leader Xi Jinping is yet to confirm if he will attend the summit.

The US consulate said Kerry arrived in China and will meet with his Chinese counterparts at a Shanghai hotel in a day of closed-door talks.

"At this point understanding each others' expectations and ambition levels, and agreeing how to use those commitments to move the international climate negotiations forward would already be an important first step," Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air told AFP.

China, the world's biggest polluter, announced an ambitious target to be carbon-neutral by 2060, but analysts have warned high reliance on coal and modest short-term targets could scupper the ambition.

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