Aug 17, 2022 - World

U.S. and China spar on Twitter over climate change action

Nicholas Burns

U.S. ambassador to China Nicholas Burns attends the 10th World Peace Forum on July 4, 2022, in Beijing. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

U.S. and Chinese officials traded barbs on Twitter this week as China questioned whether the U.S. could make good on its new landmark climate bill and the U.S. called on China to resume the countries' bilateral climate talks.

Driving the news: Signed by President Biden on Tuesday, the bill includes huge investments in clean energy technologies and is set to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

What they're saying: U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns hailed the passage of the bill in Congress in a tweet over the weekend as "the largest climate investment in our history," before calling on China to "follow+reconsider its suspension of climate cooperation with the U.S."

  • "Good to hear. But what matters is: Can the US deliver?" China's Foreign Ministry responded on Tuesday evening.
  • In a second tweet the Chinese Foreign Ministry outlined a list of climate actions the U.S. should consider taking, including lifting bans on Chinese solar materials implemented last year over concerns of forced labor in China's Xinjiang region.
  • "The Inflation Reduction Act is now law, you can bet America will meet our commitments," Burns replied on Twitter Wednesday morning, before pointing out the disparity in emissions from the U.S. and China.
  • "So why doesn’t the PRC resume our climate dialogue? We’re ready," Burns concluded, referring to China.

The big picture: China is by far the world's largest carbon emitter today, but the U.S. historically has emitted more carbon and remains among the highest emitters per capita, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes.

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