Kerry: Climate change a top priority for high-level US, China talks

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryQueen Elizabeth recognizes Kerry from video message: 'I saw you on the telly' Fossil fuel production must be cut in half to control global warming: study Pressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks MORE said climate change would be a top priority during two days of high-level talks with Chinese officials beginning Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

“How will we curb climate change? How will we pioneer new energy technology that is, in fact, the solution to climate change?” Kerry said in his opening remarks at the fifth annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

The secretary of State said the two nations — the top two greenhouse gas emitters in the world —  would play a crucial role in confronting global climate change.

“I want to underscore that when we make a decision … it ripples beyond our borders,” Kerry said. “Our people, as well as people around the world, are looking to our two countries.”

Kerry's comments come as the administration makes a new push on climate, with President Obama last month announcing a number of executive actions allowing him to bypass Congress. A key element in Obama's climate agenda is promoting international dialogue on the issue.

Getting China to agree to climate accords has proven tricky in the past, however. Beijing has long argued doing so would handicap its economic development, leaving millions in poverty.

Some observers though see the tide changing on China’s attitude to climate change as it tries to assert itself as a global superpower. And some have suggested Obama's climate change plan could help bring China to the table for climate negotiations.

In June, Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to reduce production and consumption of potent, short-term pollutants called hydrofluorocarbons, which are found in refrigerants and air conditioners.

Aside from climate change, Kerry said the U.S. and China must also work together on areas of cybersecurity and nuclear proliferation.

“Our agenda is broad, and it cuts across strategic and economic tracks,” Kerry said.

This story was updated at 11:33 a.m.