BEIJING, July 18 (Reuters) – When China and the United States meet this week in Beijing, the world’s two biggest carbon emitters will seek ways to cooperate on both domestic politics and international trade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse as they try to recalibrate ties amid disputes over trade and security.
Climate cooperation between the world’s two largest economies is seen as essential to global efforts to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Past agreements have also encouraged other countries to set bolder targets.
Here are some of the key areas that will be discussed this week:
Earlier this month, the US and China began discussing climate finance, which richer countries provide to poorer nations for clean energy transition and climate adaptation, as an area of potential cooperation.
this arrangement, first agreed at the UN climate talks in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is based on the idea that rich countries bear a greater responsibility to address climate change because they contributed most of the emissions into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming. climate since the industrial revolution.
However, China’s rapid growth and rising emissions have led many, including the European Union, to argue that China should also contribute aid. Earlier this month, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that Beijing’s contributions could boost UN climate funds.
Beijing has rejected these calls, referring to its classification as a “developing country” under the 1992 agreement. It has resisted suggestions that those classifications be revised, accusing the West of trying to evade its historical responsibility for climate change.
However, it has signaled its willingness to offer climate finance to developing countries through different instruments, such as a South-South Climate Cooperation fund that it launched in 2015. However, that fund has only delivered 10% of the $ 3.1 billion promised, according to think tank E3G.
COOPERATION IN METHANE
Climate experts hope to see progress in the fight against methane, a powerful greenhouse gas emitted by energy, agriculture and waste that is responsible for about 30% of global warming.
The two have agreed in the past to work on measuring methane emissions and will likely seek to expand that cooperation.
Technological advances in methane detection, including the deployment of satellites, offer a potential opportunity for the US to collaborate with China. And the United States hopes that China reveals his domestic plans to tackle the problem before the next UN climate conference in December.
US tariffs on Chinese solar panels have been a sore point since the administration of former President Donald Trump imposed them in 2018, arguing that low-cost products from China were hurting domestic manufacturers.
They have intensified after the passage of the Biden administration’s Reduced Inflation Act, which aims to rapidly expand renewable energy in the US and refocus manufacturing on clean energy.
President Joe Biden temporarily halted the tariffs and vetoed an effort to repeal exemptions on them. But has also blocked more than 1,000 panel submissions from the Xinjiang region over concerns about slave labor.
Beijing says the tariffs are obstructing the global shift to clean energy and must be removed. He argues that if the US wants to “protect” the climate from broader diplomatic disputes, then it should also refrain from unfairly politicizing China’s solar panel production, which is obstructing the global energy transition.
The complex topic is not expected to be brought up in the conversations, but it may come up in the discussions.
While US special envoy on climate change John Kerry praised China’s rapid deployment of renewable energy in his opening remarks Monday, he noted that its continued construction from coal-fired plants could undermine that progress. .
China has pledged to start cutting coal consumption, but not until 2026, and approvals for new coal power projects have accelerated since last year.
China continues to justify its use of coal as a matter of economic security. Meanwhile, the US is the world’s top oil and gas producer and its fossil fuel exports have skyrocketed.
China’s dominance of the electric vehicle battery supply chain has been another sticking point in relations as Kerry met with his counterpart Xie Zhenhua and other top government officials during his three-day visit to Beijing this week.
Chinese officials worry that Washington could expand restrictions on battery imports, after the US did so in May canceled a grant to Microvast Holdings when lawmakers raised concerns about its alleged ties to the Chinese government.
Outside of battery trade, Kerry and Xie could talk about ways countries could share knowledge on battery technologies.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to work to keep global warming “well below 2 degrees Celsius”, and ideally within 1.5 C, of pre-industrial temperatures. The UN climate summit six years later in Glasgow set 1.5C as a global target. Global emissions levels have only increased since then.
China still refers to the 2 degree language of the Paris agreement, while the United States, the European Union and many climate vulnerable nations focus on the 1.5C target. As the two countries look ahead to COP28 in Dubai, the misalignment of temperature targets is likely to be a point of contention, especially as the countries are expected to strengthen their efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
China, with its huge population of 1.4 billion, also describes its production of emissions on a per capita basis, making a more favorable comparison to US emissions for a population of 330 million.
The United States tends to look at overall national emissions, ignoring both historical emissions and the per capita breakdown.
Additional reporting by David Stanway in Singapore; Edited by Katy Daigle and Jacqueline Wong
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