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News, September 2020
China, US Discuss Curbing Emissions, Fossil Fuels, Chinese Foreign Minister Says the World Needs to Come Together,
SCMP, September 8, 2021
China, US to discuss curbing emissions, fossil fuels in Tianjin talks
US climate envoy John Kerry is due to arrive on Tuesday night following a stop in Tokyo and will meet Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua Ban on funding overseas coal-fired plants would be ‘politically doable’ commitment if Beijing makes new pledges before COP26, observer says
China and the United States are expected to discuss cutting carbon emissions and fossil fuel projects during a visit by US climate envoy John Kerry, who is due to arrive in Tianjin on Tuesday night.
Kerry will stay in the northeastern city until Friday, meeting his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua for a follow-up to their talks in Shanghai in April.
The former secretary of state will head to Tianjin after climate talks in Tokyo earlier in the day, including with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The trip comes as China and the US are at odds over a range of issues – with climate change one of the few areas where they are working together.
In Tianjin, both sides will seek to build on their commitment made in Shanghai to work together to implement the Paris Agreement and develop long-term strategies for carbon neutrality by late October, when the UN’s climate change conference, COP26, will begin in Glasgow, the US State Department said on Monday. China’s environment ministry said they would discuss climate cooperation and exchange views on COP26.
The talks come as the US has urged China to take more climate action ahead of the UN conference, which has set critical goals for countries to work more aggressively to halve emissions over the next decade and reach net-zero carbon emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. A devastating UN report earlier this month warned that more immediate and ambitious climate action was needed, in a “code red for humanity”.
Li Shuo, a senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace East Asia, said if China were to make new commitments before COP26, a ban on funding overseas coal-fired power plants was something it could deliver on.
“Commitments on overseas coal-fired power projects have an impact on reducing emissions and they are politically doable,” he said. “We would be happy to see China get more ambitious on these issues along with actions to ensure an early peaking of emissions before COP26.”
US, China put aside differences for pledge to work together on climate change
Kerry’s trip comes after US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s trip to Tianjin in July, when senior Chinese officials presented the US with lists of explicit demands to reverse course on the increasingly strained relationship, including to drop an extradition request for Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou and to end visa restrictions for Communist Party members.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated those demands over the weekend during a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Afghanistan, saying that Beijing would “consider how to engage with the United States based on its attitude towards China”.
But even as US President Joe Biden ’s administration has said it wants to work with China in areas such as climate change while engaging in competition and confrontation in other arenas, cooperation between the powers has proven difficult so far.
As the world’s top two polluters, China and the US both agree on the need for climate action, but have been divided on their responsibility. The US has sought to pressure China to take greater action, including for Beijing to stop financing coal plants, but Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the US-hosted climate summit in April that it was developed countries rather than developing ones that “need to increase climate ambition and action”.
What is China doing about climate change?
Under Biden, the US rejoined the Paris Agreement and has set targets to cut greenhouse gas pollution by around 50 per cent by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. China has also set aggressive targets to reach peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.
In London last month, Kerry called on countries to speed up action to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century and urged China to do more .
As of April, countries representing 55 per cent of global GDP had announced 2030 commitments consistent with the 1.5 degrees target, but Kerry said the world could not achieve that goal without bringing the remaining 45 per cent on board with the task.
Without sufficient reduction by China, together with the rest of the world, the goal of 1.5 degrees was essentially impossible, he said, calling on China to peak emissions earlier.
“China absolutely can help lead the world to success by peaking and starting to reduce emissions early during this critical decade of 2020 to 2030,” Kerry said.
Sarah Zheng joined the Post as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from Tufts University with a degree in international relations and film and media studies. She reports on China's foreign policy.
Echo is a Beijing-based reporter focusing on Chinese politics and policy. She joined the Post in 2019. Previously, she worked for CSMonitor Beijing Bureau and Jiemian news. She has a master's in journalism from Shantou University.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warns world ‘needs to come together more than ever’
Wang marks 50th anniversary of Beijing taking its UN seat by saying collective effort is needed to tackle challenges such as Covid-19 and global warming Speech also includes broadside against ‘arbitrary and unilateral’ actions by US and paints China as being on the side of ‘peace and justice’
By Shi Jiangtao
SCMP, 10:00pm, 8 Sep, 2021
Foreign Minister Wang Yi has promised that China will become a pillar of “an open world economy” and help to fight global public health crises while upholding peace and stability, in a speech that reaffirmed the country’s commitment to a multilateral international system.
He warned that the world was at a historical crossroads, amid growing concerns that the spiralling superpower rivalry and coronavirus crisis have further weakened the United Nations and other global institutions.
At an event to mark the 50th anniversary of Beijing’s assumption of China’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council, previously held by Taiwan , Wang said that greater efforts should be made to strengthen UN-centred multilateralism in tackling unprecedented challenges such as global warming .
“Under the combined impacts of changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, human development now faces multiple crises and the global governance system is undergoing profound adjustment,” he said.
SCMP Explains: China’s growing role in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa
“Now more than ever, the international community needs to come together to meet the challenges and promote common development.”
But almost in the same breath, Wang accused “a few countries” of resorting to bullying while using multilateralism as a pretext to impose their own rules on others – a thinly veiled shot at the United States and its allies.
“Arbitrary unilateral sanctions or the use of force will only prolong hatred and perpetuate wars. No one will come out as a winner,” he said.
In contrast, “China will stand, as always, on the side of peace and justice … commit to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security at the global level, and build a world of enduring peace and common security.”
Wang also vowed to embrace “openness and inclusiveness to develop an open world economy”, despite concerns about the rise of protectionism, China’s inward-looking economic policies and the accelerating decoupling of the world’s two largest economies.
“We need to safeguard the multilateral trading system with the WTO as its cornerstone, ensure the stable and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains, and work … to bring the global economy onto a path of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth,” he said. “Deglobalisation that opts for closing doors and decoupling serves no one’s interest and will only lead to a dead end.”
The People’s Republic took China’s UN seat in 1971. Photo: Xinhua
The foreign minister also told the event in Beijing that China would continue to promote its Belt and Road Initiative , a transcontinental infrastructure project which, he said, now covered 141 countries and 32 international organisations and would “inject more impetus into global recovery and growth”.
He said Beijing would honour President Xi Jinping’s pledges to provide 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to the world this year and donate US$100 million to help “the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines” globally.
Wang also warned that efforts to trace the origins of Covid-19 should not fall victim to an approach based on a “presumption of guilt or motivated by political manoeuvring”, suggesting the US campaign for an inquiry focusing on China was “doomed to fail”.
He also detailed China’s international contributions since “the restoration of the lawful seat” in 1971, including the self-claimed victory of eliminating absolute poverty last year, more than 10,000 aid projects covering 160 countries and becoming a top contributor to UN peacekeeping missions.
In Wang’s words, China has served as “an important builder of world peace, the biggest contributor to global development, and a firm defender of international order”.
The rise of China and its expanding influence at the UN and other multilateral bodies have given rise to concerns that a form of multilateralism with “Chinese characteristics” will come to dominate the world order .
“Since [the foundation of the UN] the balance of power has changed to the benefit of China, but whether that country eventually will take up the influential role that US once had remains uncertain,” said Frans-Paul van der Putten, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think tank.
“This situation of uncertainty could last a long time. In the meantime, US-China rivalry is likely to deepen and progressively limit the effectiveness of international organisations.”
But according to former US diplomat Jeffrey Feltman, who served as under-secretary general for political affairs at the UN between 2012 and 2018, concerns that China is transforming the UN from within “seem if not overblown, at least premature”.
“Whatever its ambitions, China has not replaced the United States as the UN’s most powerful member state,” said Feltman, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. “The UN can be characterised as ‘home turf’ for the United States, but walking off the field will facilitate China moving in to fill the vacuum.”***
A former diplomat, Shi Jiangtao has worked as a China reporter at the Post for more than a decade. He's interested in political, social and environmental development in China.
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