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US-China Climate Talks: A Good-Minded Approach

US-China Climate Talks: A Good-Minded Approach

US climate chief John Kerry visited China’s capital Beijing. It is a restart of climate talks between the world’s two biggest carbon polluters.

The politics of contradictions: China is building more solar systems — but also coal-fired power plants Photo: Dingshu Wang/Reuters

Beijing taz | Perfect day for US climate commissioner John Kerry to start his climate talks in China: The highest air temperature measured to date hit nearly two degrees Celsius in the northwest of the country on Monday, according to Chinese state media. Sanbao County in Xinjiang region recorded a temperature of 52.2 degrees Celsius.

Early in the morning, when it was still 37 degrees, Kerry met his counterpart Xie Zhenhua in Beijing to discuss measures to combat the man-made climate crisis in the well-conditioned rooms of a Beijing hotel.

The first signs are very positive: not only did the talks last a glorious four hours, but they were well-delivered. “China and the United States have similar ideas and a similar history in dealing with climate change,” Xie told media. And Kerry explained that “real progress needs to be made.”

Representatives from two of the world’s largest CO countries have already won2– Talk to each other again in the emission. Beijing suspended climate talks last year after then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited the island of Taiwan. The move should also serve as a warning: Beijing does not shy away from using environmental issues to make political demands.

China is the number one producer of renewables and coal-fired power

At this point, however, it is highly conceivable that the two warring governments will produce more than rhetorical airs. The current severe heat wave has shown China once again how much the effects of global warming threaten its development: energy security is affected by dangerous temperatures, and crop yields are destroyed by droughts and floods.

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Nevertheless, the government media is reluctant to report on issues that are more prominently linked to climate change. If they do, they always make it clear that the Chinese government is leading the fight against global warming.

Party newspapers proudly report that China is installing more renewable energy than any other country in the world. But it continues to generate coal-fired power plants and a third of the world’s CO2 Emissions are deliberately swept under the carpet.

Behind this is the central government’s deep fascination with civil society. Environmental activism outside the confines of the Communist Party will be little tolerated, and a Friday movement for the future would be almost unthinkable in China. People should not get the idea of ​​making environmental demands on their leaders.

The government is under massive economic pressure

At the same time, the government is also under massive economic pressure. The economic recovery has completely evaporated since the end of “Zero Covid” measures in December, figures released by the Beijing Bureau of Statistics showed on Monday.

From the first quarter of the year to the second quarter, economic output grew by only 0.8 percent — less than expected. Not all leading indicators point to improvement. It is also questionable whether Beijing can meet its self-proclaimed target of 5 percent annual growth.

All this does not necessarily make it easier for party activists to implement costly reforms to make the energy- and resource-intensive economy more sustainable. Instead, Beijing can repeat its tried-and-tested recipe — and set out massive infrastructure projects that will generate rapid growth. At the expense of CO2– Balance sheet.

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