Apr 10, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Report: John Kerry plans to visit China ahead of Biden's climate summit

John kerry

John Kerry. Photo: Zach Gibson / Stringer

John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.

  • Collaboration between the economic rivals amid major tensions over trade and human rights is important for global efforts to rein in emissions.
  • The reported visit also comes ahead of the virtual international climate summit Biden's convening between April 22 and 23. Chinese President Xi Jinping is invited.

Yes, but: The visit could still be called off, the Post reported.

What they're saying: A State Department spokesperson said there's "no travel to announce at this time," but added Kerry's been "in touch with Minister Xie Zhenhua since they were both appointed," referring to China's top climate diplomat.

  • "We expect conversations between the two will continue, given that China is the largest emitter in the world," the department said.

Of note: Xie recently returned for a second stint in the role. He and Kerry worked together in the run-up to the late 2015 Paris climate deal when Kerry was secretary of State during the Obama years.

What we're watching: China last year pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and have its emissions peak before 2030, but details on how the nation will go about this remain scarce.

  • Kerry, at an International Monetary Fund event last week, said China may be able to reach a peak by 2025, but added he wants more ambitious steps.
  • "The problem is that the current curve shows China peaking and then basically plateauing, not coming down sufficiently," Kerry said, adding that China needs to cut emissions this decade to keep the Paris agreement goals viable.
  • The U.S. is slated to announce its own 2030 emissions-cutting target just ahead of this month's White House summit, and advocates want the pledge to vow steep cuts.

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