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US climate envoy concludes talks in China


US climate envoy concludes talks in China

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Photo: Benoit Tessier/ Reuters

US climate envoy John Kerry concludes his East Asia Climate Tour in Shanghai today by meeting with Chinese special envoy Xie Zhenhua.

The meeting is part of a series that Kerry has held in the wake of the UN global climate summit last December. Kerry urged world leaders to act against climate change and pressed for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s talks come on the heels of a heated meeting in Alaska last month between high-level US and Chinese officials over human rights violations and cybersecurity, which have contributed to tense Sino-American relations.

Beijing and Washington will likely cooperate to decrease carbon emissions through clean energy investments in solar and wind power and electric vehicle infrastructure in the near-term. Cooperating on the shared threat from climate change may offer a route to decreasing tensions, but it is doubtful any significant détente will occur in the short-to-medium term as both countries view climate change as an independent policy zone. Expect continued actions that aggravate one another in other areas, such as US naval operations in the South China Sea and strengthening US relations with Taiwan, while China will likely increase global infrastructure investment and challenge US policies to drive away Washington’s allies and develop its own influence.

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