US climate envoy John Kerry warned Thursday that China’s construction of coal-fired facilities could derail the achievement of environmental targets after he spoke with top Chinese officials.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have escalated in recent months, with both sides accusing each other over China’s human rights record, and China’s early handling of the coronavirus. Tackling climate change is one of a number of issues that both sides have in common. However, Beijing has stressed in recent months that environmental cooperation could be hurt by deteriorating Sino-US relations.
Kerry told reporters on Thursday (1/9) night that the US had explained that the addition of a coal-fired power plant was a big challenge in the world’s efforts to overcome the climate crisis.
“China’s plan to build a new power plant could thwart the world’s ability to achieve net-zero or net-zero by 2050.” Kerry added that although they had a very constructive conversation, he also candidly discussed this topic.
Despite pledging to reach peak coal consumption by 2030, China last year operated coal-fired power plants with a capacity of 38.4 gigawatts – more than three times what was globally inaugurated.
China challenges the US to improve its relationship with Beijing to make progress on climate change. However, Kerry urged the Chinese government not to let environmental cooperation be affected by tensions between the world’s two biggest polluters, and warned that it was a “global challenge.”
“It is important, whatever differences we have, we must respond to this climate crisis,” he said.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry earlier that cooperation in global warming cannot be separated from diplomacy on other issues between the two countries. [jm/ka]