Mar 21, 2021 - World

U.S. and China discussed climate change, but did not form working group

Anthony Blinken at the state department podium.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

A delegation for the Biden administration "discussed the climate crisis" with Chinese counterparts during talks in Alaska this week, but the two sides did not form a working group on the issue, contrary to a Chinese media report, a State Department spokesperson tells Axios.

Driving the news: The report followed the first face-to-face diplomatic meetings between officials from the U.S. and China since the start of Joe Biden's presidency. The talks indicated Biden does not "plan to wholly abandon the Trump administration’s tough tone in discussions with Beijing" writes NBC News.

What they're saying: "More broadly, we know the climate challenge does not get successfully addressed without significant additional action by China," the spokesperson told Axios. "China represents almost 30 percent of global emissions, in addition to its carbon-intensive investments abroad."

  • The spokesperson called Chinese President Xi's promise to achieve net zero emissions before 2060 "a significant step forward," but added that China needs to do more to reach Paris Agreement goals.
  • "We will continue to engage China and other key countries as we move forward to address the climate crisis.  All countries must raise their ambitions as we move toward COP26 in Glasgow," the spokesperson said.

Flashback: U.S. Climate envoy John Kerry in January said that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but that the Biden administration will not stop confronting Beijing on human rights and trade abuses.

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