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U.S., China Discuss Ways to Reach ‘Ambitious’ Climate Change Pact in 2015

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

By Anthony Adragna  

Feb. 14 --Top Chinese leaders and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed potential additional actions both countries could take to address climate change and meaningful targets for emissions reductions ahead of a 2015 international conference in Paris where both nations hope to complete an “ambitious” international agreement on climate change.

Kerry, speaking to reporters in Beijing following the meetings, praised the efforts of the U.S.-China climate change working group but said both nations needed to do more ahead of the 2015 international conference. The secretary of state further called for both nations to “make good” on a promise made by President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

“If we follow through on all of the fronts that are available to us, we have an opportunity to make real progress in the fight against climate change,” Kerry said.

Kerry said he held meetings with Xi, Premier Li Keqiang, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, among others.

President Xi promised his nation was committed to taking action on climate change and vowed to “do more” to address the issue, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

“It is not at others' demand but our own will,” Xi said according to Xinhua. “We have already taken many measures and will do more in the future.”

At a Feb. 13 briefing on Kerry's trip to Asia, a senior State Department official said the issue of climate change would be a “high” priority issue throughout the six-day trip through South Korea, China and Indonesia.

“The Secretary is convinced that this is a critical area for cooperation between the U.S. and China, particularly given that we are the world's two largest emitters of carbon,” the official said. “He will want to discuss both practical steps that we can take as well as ways that the U.S. and China can effectively cooperate as part of the global effort.”

Progress on addressing climate change will hinge on the efforts of the United States and China, which account for approximately 45 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to a 2013 European Commission report.

Year of Commitments

Both countries have increased their public cooperation on the issue over the past year. In April 2013, the U.S. and China announced a working group to work together on technology, research, conservation, and alternative and renewable energy sources to combat climate change through “forceful” action .

Then, in June 2013, Obama and Xi announced an agreement to phase out the use of HFCs in air conditioning and refrigeration units, which they reaffirmed in a second statement in September.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and China's Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian then reiterated their joint commitment to reducing emissions from marine vessels, soil pollution, impacts from shale gas and mercury pollution, according to a report issued by China following a December 2013 meeting. Both nations said they “continue to deepen cooperation and enhance” trust on environmental issues .

 

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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