United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry asked China to cut its carbon emissions.
Kerry — who previously served as Secretary of State under the Obama administration — declared during a Tuesday speech delivered in London that the hardships from COVID-19 would be “magnified many times over in a world that does not grapple with, and ultimately halt, the climate crisis.”
“The climate crisis, my friends, is the test of our times,” said Kerry as recorded by CNBC. “And while some may still believe it is unfolding in slow motion, no, this test is now as acute and as existential as any previous one.”
“As a large country, an economic leader and now the largest driver of climate change, China absolutely can help lead the world to success by peaking and starting to reduce emissions early during this critical decade of 2020 to 2030,” he added. “The truth is there’s no alternative, because without sufficient reduction by China, together with the rest of us, the goal of 1.5 degrees is essentially impossible.”
Kerry — who is set to attend a G20 meeting in Italy focused on environmental policy — previously signed a statement with China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua on climate change:
The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands… Both countries recall their historic contribution to the development, adoption, signature, and entry into force of the Paris Agreement through their leadership and collaboration.
Months later, however, Chinese policymakers shirked climate change goals to promote economic expansion. As The Wall Street Journal reported:
China’s top economic planners have put the brakes on attempts by environmental officials to reduce carbon emissions as driving growth takes priority over meeting climate targets for now, according to people familiar with the matter.
Officials at China’s main economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, have limited the initial scope of a national carbon-trading system, which is set to go into full operation later this month after pilot projects in eight Chinese cities.
The economic planning office has also gained the upper hand in negotiations over drafting a detailed road map to fulfill leader Xi Jinping’s pledges to achieve a peak in carbon-dioxide emission before 2030 and net zero emissions by 2060, the people said.
China alone produces 28% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2008 and 2018, its carbon dioxide emissions significantly expanded. Over the same period, the United States’ emissions trended slightly downward.