US climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that Washington was not dictating climate solutions to China, after President Xi Jinping said Beijing will make its own decisions on how to address global warming.
Kerry spoke during the final day of a three-day trip to Beijing, during which he has said the threat of climate change requires a “new definition” of Chinese and American cooperation as the world’s two largest polluters revive stalled diplomacy on reducing planet-warming emissions.
The envoy said during a conference call with reporters that he and his team had “extremely warm and productive meetings” with senior Chinese officials during the visit, and that none expressed concerns about the United States pushing them on ways to deal with climate change.
A day earlier, Xi addressed a conference on the environment in Beijing where he stressed that China must chart its own course on carbon emissions.
“We must make the decisions on our own when it comes to the path, methods, pace, and intensity to achieve them. No one should expect to exert influence on us,” the Chinese president said, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
He did not mention Kerry by name, according to the Xinhua report, and the US envoy was not in the audience during the address.
Asked about the comments Wednesday, Kerry said: “We’re not involved in dictating anything to anybody. We’re involved in following the science.”
Kerry, who met with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, Chinese premier Li Qiang, and his climate policy counterpart Xie Zhenhua, said Xi’s comments were not reflected in his talks.
“There’s no politics or ideology in what we’re doing,” Kerry said.
“None of the leaders I met with suggested that there was any reason we shouldn’t be coordinating the way we are, working together the way we are, with mutual respect.”
Kerry said his discussions covered a lot of ground after a long break in bilateral climate talks.
The two-way discussions were cut off last year after Beijing took offence at a visit to Taiwan by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. China sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Kerry said the two sides focused on how to make the next UN climate summit — COP 28, scheduled for December in Dubai — a success, and on how to craft national targets to be submitted in 2025.
Both sides agreed to hone in on integrating renewable energy into the power sector in order to reduce coal emissions.
They also agreed to focus on non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, he said.
Kerry said US and Chinese officials would work “intensively” on these and other issues, and will meet again within a few weeks.
“We agreed to work together towards ambitious and agreed outcomes at the COP 28” and other international fora, he said.