Climate talks between China and the US reach “positive results”

Climate change talks between China and the United States, led by their respective special envoys Xie Zhenhua and John Kerry, concluded yesterday in Sunnylands, California, with “positive results.” Representatives of the world’s two largest producers of greenhouse gases met ahead of COP28 in Dubai, scheduled for later this month.

The statements

According to a statement released today by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the two sides “have engaged in comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views and have achieved positive results in developing bilateral cooperation and action against climate change.” . Beijing and Washington agreed to “act together for the success of the COP28 conference”, the Chinese ministry added.

US envoy John Kerry said he had found “common ground” with China. “We have had in-depth and constructive discussions with the People’s Republic of China for five days and have found common ground on several issues that will prove useful in these critical weeks leading up to COP28,” it said in a statement.

The COP28 conference

The meeting promoted by the UN will be held in the United Arab Emirates at the end of the month, a new stage of discussion to broaden consensus and act against global warming. China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060.

The plan for methane emissions

Yesterday the Chinese ministry itself presented a broad plan, albeit vague on targets, for reducing methane emissions. The United States, along with more than 150 other countries, has committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030, but China has so far failed to meet that commitment, despite being the world’s largest producer, largely due to coal mining. Kerry and Xi are at odds over the coal issue, with the US climate envoy calling for the issue to be at the center of COP28 negotiations, while his Chinese counterpart said phasing out fossil fuels was “unrealistic”. The measures, meanwhile, envisage recycling up to six billion cubic meters of gas released from coal mines by 2025. Beijing has also committed to cutting the use of gas flaring, associated with oil extraction and a key source of methane emissions, and proposed guidelines for the reuse of over 80% of livestock waste, another important source of methane generation, again by 2025.