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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.

Go deeper

Jan 21, 2021 - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
6 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Japan vows deeper emissions cuts ahead of White House summit

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan on Thursday said it will seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 46% below 2013 levels by 2030, per the AP and other outlets.

Why it matters: The country is the world's fifth-largest largest carbon dioxide emitter and a major consumer of coal, oil and natural gas.

Biden pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52% by 2030

U.S. President Joe Biden seen in the Oval Office on April 15. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

The Biden administration is moving to address global warming by setting a new, economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 50% to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Why it matters: The new, non-binding target is about twice as ambitious as the previous U.S. target of a 26% to 28% cut by 2025, which was set during the Obama administration. White House officials described the goal as ambitious but achievable during a call with reporters Tuesday night.