Dec 10, 2020 - Energy & Environment

John Kerry's China tightrope

Picture of John Kerry

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

John Kerry is beginning to signal how he'll approach his new gig as President-elect Joe Biden's special envoy on climate change — including the fraught relationship with China, the world's biggest carbon emitter.

Driving the news: Kerry tells NBC News that he sees an opening to work with China even amid tensions between the countries on trade and other topics.

  • "History is full of opposing nations, nations that are competitors and potentially adversaries coming together around things that are imperative," he said.
  • "We will continue to try to address critical issues between us regarding trade, regarding theft of intellectual property, regarding access to market."
  • And in remarks to NPR, Kerry said he will talk to China about their financing of coal-fired power in other nations, but in a way that "doesn't force people into a corner to hunker down and head towards conflict."

Where it stands: Elsewhere, Kerry tells NPR that he's begun discussions with energy companies, albeit with constraints.

"I'm reaching out to them because I want to hear from them right now. We have to wait till January 20th before we engage substantively promoting any policy," he said.

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