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Biden rebuffed as US and China fail to reach climate agreement


As we have predicted for some time, the US administration’s attempt to pressure China and other emerging nations into accepting Joe Biden’s Net Zero agenda is failing and is unlikely to be accepted by the UN climate summit in November (COP26).

Beijing has now publicly rebuffed John Kerry’s latest attempt to push China into a corner.

Ever since he was made US climate envoy by President Biden, Kerry has argued that in order to limit global warming to the 1.5C target enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accord, China would have to cut CO2 emissions much sooner than the Paris Agreement allows, warning that China’s failure to agree stronger cuts now could lead the US to impose punitive carbon border taxes.

China, however, is opposed to committing to the 1.5 C goal and objects to any changes to the Paris Agreement which adopted a pledge to cap global surface temperature rise at “well below” two degrees Celsius and an aspirational limit of 1.5 degrees.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s top climate diplomat, recently warned that

some countries are pushing to rewrite the Paris Agreement. That is, they want to strive to change the target of control for the rise of temperature from two degrees Celsius to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have to understand the different situations in different countries, and strive to reach a consensus,” he added.

It has been evident for years that the climate and energy demands by China, India and other emerging nations and those by the US, the UK and the EU are incompatible. There is, in short, a serious risk of another Copenhagen-type COP fiasco.

Recent reports in the British media suggest that Boris Johnson is considering to abandon the 1.5C goal in order to avoid a COP debacle in Glasgow in November. However, if the price for a COP26 compromise is the abandonment of Joe Biden’s 1.5C goal, the West’s 2050 Net Zero agenda itself will become futile and politically unsustainable.

Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, was among the officials who held talks on climate change with US envoy John Kerry. Photo: Xinhua

Beijing has rebuffed American calls to make more public pledges on climate change before a UN climate summit in November, insisting it should follow its own plan rather than bowing to US pressure, according to a person familiar with the two countries’ negotiations.

During talks with Chinese leaders in Tianjin, US climate envoy John Kerry presented a list of proposals for Beijing to accelerate its climate efforts. They included a public commitment to the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) limit of global warming targeted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, a definite time frame for carbon emissions to peak before 2030, and a moratorium on financing overseas coal-fired projects.

But the two sides failed to reach agreement, according to the source, who requested anonymity.

The Biden administration’s recent actions targeting the Chinese solar panel industry over forced labour allegations in Xinjang was a concern brought up by Chinese officials during the discussions with Kerry, according to the source.

“The US has asked the Chinese government to give up support to the coal plants … but it has imposed sanctions on China’s photovoltaic companies,” they said.

Kerry’s trip to Tianjin ended on Friday following a series of meetings with China’s chief climate affairs negotiator Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Premier Han Zheng, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and top diplomat Yang Jiechi.

In the meetings on Thursday, Wang and Yang called on Washington to change its tough policies towards Beijing, with Wang saying that climate change cooperation would not be smooth when China-US relations were deteriorating.

Kerry said after the Thursday meetings that climate efforts were “not a geostrategic weapon or tool”, and called on China to do more.

He said it would be up to US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to decide on the sanctions, but added: “I will certainly pass on to them … the full nature of the message that I received from Chinese leaders.

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