The Chinese government welcomed Thursday, November 9, the “positive results” of discussions held on climate in recent days with the United States in California, in preparation for the UN climate conference, COP28 in Dubai. American climate envoy John Kerry received his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua near Palm Springs on Saturday. Discussions between the two men ended “successfully” on Wednesday, the Chinese Ministry of the Environment said in a statement.
The two countries, which are the largest emitters of CO2 in the world, “conducted a comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views and achieved positive results with regard to the development of bilateral cooperation and action on climate change".
China and the United States also agreed to “work together to make COP28 a success,” according to the press release. The talks were held ahead of an expected visit next week by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United States, amid growing rivalry between the world's top two economic powers.
The Chinese head of state is expected to meet his counterpart Joe Biden on November 15 in San Francisco for the first summit between the two powers in a year, AFP learned from sources close to the matter. The meeting would be held on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, with the United States attending the summit as host and China as member.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have reached one of the lowest points in recent years on many issues, including export controls, human rights and national security.
But the two countries seem eager to resume dialogue, with Washington sending several senior officials to Beijing this year and resuming their discussions, particularly on the climate and their nuclear arsenal. China is ready to hold negotiations with the United States at “all levels,” Chinese Vice President Han Zheng said on Wednesday.
“We have 1000 reasons to improve relations between China and the United States, but not a single one to spoil them,” Xi Jinping also assured last month. Nearly 200 countries will meet in Dubai for COP28 from November 30, at the end of a year 2023 marked by record temperature rises, an increase in fires and natural disasters which are causing concern across the world.
The United States and China together are responsible for almost half of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the main challenges of the Dubai summit will be to define the contours of a so-called “loss and damage” fund, adopted in principle at COP27 and supposed to compensate the poorest countries for the consequences of climate change.
The administration of US President Joe Biden does not oppose this fund but demands that China contribute to it alongside developed countries. Beijing, which often appears as the spokesperson for emerging countries, believes that the latter should not be subject to constraints that were never imposed on Westerners during their development phase. The Asian giant unveiled a plan on Tuesday to control its methane emissions, but without setting quantified reduction targets.