China, Europe to coordinate on climate issue amid Kerry’s visit in Shanghai, ahead of US-held summit
Biden needs to prove US won’t overturn promise again: expert
Published: Apr 15, 2021 10:28 PM
climate Photo:VCG

climate Photo:VCG

When US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visits Shanghai, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that the leaders of China, France and Germany will have a virtual summit on climate change on Friday, a week ahead of the "Leaders Summit on Climate" which the US has invited 40 leaders to attend from April 22 to 23.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the China-France-Germany leaders' climate summit via video link in Beijing on Friday at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced on Thursday.

China EU. Photo: VCG

China EU. Photo: VCG

Chinese experts said this shows that China and major European powers are telling the US "who are leading" the world cooperation on the climate issues, even as US President Joe Biden has claimed that America is back to lead and has expressed his great ambition. The US should at least "pay the debt" and to convince the world that it won't break its promise again, analysts said.  

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday that "having such a summit at this juncture sends a clear signal from China, France and Germany: The cooperation they have on the climate issues is deeper, broader and greater than the cooperation they have with the US. Beijing, Paris and Berlin also share more consensus than they share with Washington."   

After the previous US administration withdrew from the Paris Agreement and broke the US promise, the US is the one "in debt," and the Biden administration needs to rebuild US credibility on the issue to convince China, Europe and the rest of the world that the US will be accountable and trustworthy, said Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

The four-year term of Donald Trump had spread anti-intellectualism and anti-science thoughts to about half of the US population, so it's hard for the Biden administration to convince others that the US will conclude with a sustainable and irreversible policy lasting more than four years, despite Biden's great ambition to bring the US back to lead, Lü said on Thursday.

Macron's invitation to Xi also shows that leaders of major powers who play a leading role in the EU can handle EU-China ties autonomously. As China and the EU have some arguments on the "human rights issues," some Western media and observers said that "China is pushing the EU back to the US side." However, the upcoming China-France-Germany summit on climate change is just like a slap on their faces, Lü noted.

Before his departure for Shanghai, Kerry told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that his team is committed to finding ways to force China to be accountable for pledges it makes in continuing negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Last week, during a trip to India, Kerry told reporters he was "hopeful [but] not confident at this point" about Chinese cooperation.

"Again, the US is trying to play tough. It seems that the Biden administration still wants to talk to China from a position of strength," Cui said, noting that the situation is not about how the US will hold China to account, it's about how China and Europe, the real leaders on the climate issue, will hold the US to account, and the US, which has failed to keep its promise and has left China and the EU to keep paying efforts for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, is unqualified to speak from a position of strength.

In the interview with the Wall Street Journal, Kerry said climate change is a free-standing issue, which means the US won't use it to make a deal or exchange with China on other issues where both sides have differences.

Lü said climate change can't be a free-standing issue, because it is an issue about carbon emissions, so it's related to science and technology, the new-energy industry, super computers used for monitoring climate change and carbon emissions. But unfortunately, the US is trying to crack down or contain China in these fields.

"If the US really wants cooperation from China, it should show its sincerity to cancel all of those unfair policies that serve the purpose of containing China," he noted.

The China-France-Germany summit will not just talk about how to deal with the US, Cui said, as both sides will talk about how to help each other realize their carbon-neutral targets through cooperation through a carbon emission trading system, green technology and industries. 

"China and its European partners can have much deeper and broader cooperation with each other than with the US. And they need to coordinate their stances and positions ahead of the summit organized by the US, as well as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference," which will be held in Glasgow in November, Cui noted.