Related Topics

  • COP26

image sourceReutersimage captionMr Kerry has said China can do more to tackle global warming

US climate envoy John Kerry has told China that climate change is more important than politics as tensions between the two countries continue.

He made the remarks following two days of talks with Chinese leaders in the city of Tianjin.

But China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Wednesday that the worsening relationship could hamper future co-operation on climate issues.

Both countries have outlined steps to tackle climate change.

But Mr Kerry has called on China to increase its efforts to tackle carbon emissions.

Tensions between the two countries have worsened in recent months with disputes over China's human rights record, the South China Sea and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Kerry said he had told the Chinese that "climate is not ideological, not partisan and not a geostrategic weapon".

"It is essential… no matter what differences we have, that we have to address the climate crisis," he said

Earlier, Mr Wang called on the US to "stop seeing China as a threat and an opponent", accusing Washington of a "major strategic miscalculation towards China".

"It is impossible for China-US climate co-operation to be elevated above the overall environment of China-US relations," he said.

  • Why China's climate policy matters to us all
  • US criticises China over climate change efforts

China became the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2006 and is now responsible for more than a quarter of the world's overall greenhouse gas emissions.

President Xi Jinping has said he will aim for China's emissions to reach their highest point before 2030 and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2060. But it is not yet clear how he plans to achieve this.

Mr Kerry said he aimed to meet Chinese leaders again ahead of the upcoming COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow this year and push for stronger emission reduction targets.

"We have consistently said to China and other countries… to do their best within their given capacity," he said on Thursday. "We think that China can do more."

If there was to be any sign of progress between the world's two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases you'd expect a nod to it now.

This is John Kerry's second trip to China in a matter of months.

Instead China has refused to accept America's terms. It won't separate talks on climate change from the broader disagreements between Beijing and Washington DC; everything is on the table.

Which means John Kerry has – so far – failed in his bid to get just one thing on the table. One thing that's so important, he said, that it shouldn't be overshadowed by tariffs or sanctions or extradition.

The question now is will President Joe Biden – a man who has enhanced some of the punitive measures put in place by his predecessor – change tack?