Albuquerque Journal

China ties climate to better US relations

Special envoy Kerry meets virtually with Chinese leaders

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U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said political tensions with China affect the outlook for climate cooperatio­n, as top Chinese officials pushed Washington to commit to improvemen­ts in their broader relationsh­ip.

“If you have three major leaders publicly telling President Biden’s climate envoy that this is affecting outlook, it affects the outlook,” Kerry said Thursday in response to a question on whether U.S.-China tensions are having an impact on climate cooperatio­n.

Kerry said his virtual meetings with top Chinese officials including Yang Jiechi, a member of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo, were “polite” and “constructi­ve,” and that he was briefed on China’s 1+N climate plan that could raise ambitions going forward.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry that Washington must take the first step to improve ties that frayed during the Trump administra­tion, when a trade war erupted.

“China-U.S. climate change cooperatio­n cannot be separated from the general environmen­t of relations,” Wang said, according to the ministry. “The United States should meet China halfway and take positive actions to push relations back on track.”

Kerry urged China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, to do more to curb its discharge. He said in a meeting with Vice Premier Han Zheng that China had to be fully engaged and committed for the climate crisis to be solved.

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