US climate envoy John Kerry to take part in summit co-hosted by China

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – The Biden administration is set to participate in a climate summit co-hosted by China on Tuesday (March 23), just days after its first face-to-face talks with that country descended into bickering.

Mr John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, is to participate in the Ministerial on Climate Action, according to two people familiar with the matter. Yet no separate virtual session is planned between Mr Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, the people said.

The virtual ministerial session, organised by the European Union, Canada and China, is intended to bring together representatives of more than 30 countries, including some of the world’s top emitters of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

In a joint statement earlier this month, the US and European Union highlighted the ministerial meeting as one of several “key milestones for increasing momentum” and encouraging more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions-cutting goals before a United Nations climate summit in Glasgow this November.

The US also is holding its own virtual meeting with top-emitting countries on April 22.

Despite a fraught US-China relationship, Mr Kerry has emphasised the US can “find a way to compartmentalise” its global warming discussions with China, which is the world’s top emitter, responsible for almost 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Concerns about other matters, such as protecting intellectual property, are “obviously significant issues”, Mr Kerry said on March 2 at CERAWeek by IHS Markit, “but the climate crisis is not something that can fall victim to those other concerns and contests.”

Mr Kerry, a former secretary of State and US senator, has been in touch with Mr Xie since they were both appointed, and further conversations between the two are expected, according to one of the people familiar with the interactions.

Tuesday’s meeting comes as the US seeks to rebuild trust after the country’s departure from the Paris climate agreement under President Donald Trump.

Since the US formally rejoined the pact in February, Mr Kerry has been meeting with climate negotiators globally to underscore the country’s commitment to the accord.

Mr Kerry, who helped broker the landmark agreement when he led the State Department under President Barack Obama, pressed climate concerns in meetings with top European Commission officials earlier this month.

A renewed alliance between the US and the EU on climate issues could shift the dynamics of crucial global talks, encouraging China and other major polluters to step up their efforts to reduce emissions, Mr Kerry said at the time.

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