By David Stanway
SHANGHAI (Reuters) -U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry said he had urged Chinese leaders to reach for the “highest ambition” in order to curb temperature rises, saying the climate crisis was not about politics.
Senior Chinese diplomats told Kerry during his visit to China that the issue of climate change could not be separated from the broader political disputes between the two sides.
“My response to them was, look, climate is not ideological, not partisan, and not a geostrategic weapon,” Kerry told reporters during a conference call following two days of talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, in the northern city of Tianjin.
He said that while China was doing a lot to tackle rising levels of greenhouse gas, it was now emitting more than the whole of the OECD, and “can do more”.
China, the world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas, has pledged to bring emissions to a peak by the end of the decade and to net zero by 2060.
But it will only start cutting coal consumption after 2026 and it is still approving new projects at home and financing them overseas.
Kerry said if China’s planned additional coal capacity was completed it would undermine global efforts to bring emissions down to net zero and to limit global temperature rises.
“We the United States have made it very clear that the addition of more coal plants represents a significant challenge to the efforts of the world to tackle the climate crisis,” he said.
Kerry said talks would continue between the United States and China ahead of the next round of global climate talks in Glasgow in November.
(Reporting by David Stanway;Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)