Energy & Environment

Kerry: China described climate change as ‘crisis’ for the first time

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DNCC via Getty Images
In this screenshot from the DNCC’s livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the virtual convention on August 18, 2020. 

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry emphasized what he said was progress on negotiating with China on carbon emissions Wednesday, saying Beijing had described climate change as a “crisis” for the first time.

“Obviously we have differences with China on certain issues, and climate has to be treated separately,” Kerry said Wednesday in a Washington Post Live interview with columnist Jonathan Capehart. Kerry noted that in his recent visit to Shanghai for climate negotiations, China had signed onto a joint statement in which “China used the word crisis for the first time. … China came around and said it is urgent.”

“They didn’t just talk about plateauing or peaking, they have now agreed there must be actions between 2020 and 2030,” he added.

Biden added that at Thursday’s U.S.-hosted climate summit, President Xi Jinping “is expected to make some announcements about what China is going to be doing to address this immediate challenge.”

“The purpose of President Biden’s summit is to raise ambition globally,” he added. “The world is way behind where we need to be and this is going to take very dramatic efforts from all of us.”

Asked whether China would commit to emissions reductions that would keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, Kerry responded, “We don’t know yet; that is the test obviously.”

Kerry credited recent announcements by the U.K. and European Union on emissions reductions targets, saying “In the next days and hours many other increases of ambition will be articulated, and that’s what the world needs.”

Capehart also asked Kerry about the reintroduction of Green New Deal legislation by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and whether he believed it stood a chance of passage with Democratic control of the Senate and White House.

“It’s not my job to be involved in current legislation but I can tell you, any member of Congress can introduce something but President Biden has a plan,” Kerry said, referencing the White House’s American Jobs Plan.

“President Biden believes this is the biggest jobs opportunity in the history of our country since the industrial revolution,” Kerry added. He cited the lack of a nationwide grid, calling it nonsensical that there was “a huge hold in the middle of … the nation that invents vaccines… and sends people to the moon.”

The White House plan, he said, was “the most important piece of legislation we should be organizing around … something that can get the votes and will become the law of the land.”

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Biden infrastructure Climate change Ed Markey Edward Markey Green New Deal Joe Biden John Kerry Jonathan Capehart Xi Jinping
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