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Thursday February 22, 2024

US and China must ‘win climate battle’ together, says Kerry

By AFP
November 30, 2023

DUBAI: China and the United States -- the world´s two biggest greenhouse gas polluters -- will work together at the UN climate talks in Dubai, US envoy John Kerry said on Wednesday.

“Without China and the United States aggressively moving forward to reduce emissions, we don´t win this battle,” the former secretary of state told reporters on the eve of the opening of COP28.

John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during the CEO Summit of the Americas hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles in June 2022. — Bloomberg
John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during the CEO Summit of the Americas hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles in June 2022. — Bloomberg

“We are number two (biggest emitter), they´re number one... So we have decided to actually work together to get a successful COP,” said Kerry, who mentioned his last meeting with China´s long-standing climate envoy Xie Zhenhua earlier this month.

He said both countries -- who produce 40 percent of all greenhouse gases -- “need to step up and help get the job done at a faster rate” to limit warming to 1.5 Centigrade as was agreed at the Paris climate talks in 2015.

China is the world´s biggest greenhouse gas emitter. But when past emissions are taken into account, it is second behind the US.

Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), told AFP in September that he was appealing to both superpowers to put aside “their economic and geopolitical tensions” during the talks.

After months of discreet discussions, both countries released a joint climate statement in which they announced cooperation in various areas including on methane, the second most damaging greenhouse gas after CO2. It also mentioned common objectives from COP28.

The first official audit of the Paris agreement, which has to be agreed by consensus, is one of the most anticipated decisions due to be taken in Dubai.

“This global stocktake needs to earn the credibility of the world by being candid, strong, visionary and comprehensive,” added Kerry.

He said the US would push for a “commitment to accelerate the phase out of unabated fossil fuels”, meaning without carbon capture -- a key battleground at the talks.

“I feel confident that we´re going to make progress. The question is how much progress,” he added. “The proof is in the pudding.”The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 will open on Thursday (today) with a resounding call to accelerate collective climate action. The conference takes place in what is already known to be the hottest year ever recorded in human history and as the impacts of the climate crisis wreak unprecedented havoc on human life and livelihoods around the world.

COP28 in Dubai, from 30 November to 12 December 2023, is a decisive moment to act on climate commitments and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. UAE has the presidency for COP28, with Dr Sultan Al Jaber as this year’s president.

This year’s COP marks the conclusion of the “global stocktake”, the first assessment of global progress in implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement. The findings are stark: the world is not on track to limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of this century. It does recognise that countries are developing plans for a net-zero future, and the shift to clean energy is gathering speed, but it makes clear that the transition is nowhere near fast enough yet to limit warming within the current ambitions.