China’s climate envoy says he expects continued cooperation with the US

China’s climate envoy says he expects continued cooperation with the US

By Jake Spring

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 19 (Reuters) – China’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua said on Saturday he expects to continue direct cooperation on climate change with his U.S. counterpart John Kerry after the summit closes COP27 in Egypt.

China and the United States are the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, and cooperation between them is seen as vital to international efforts to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden agreed to restart cooperation on climate change earlier this week after a months-long hiatus over tensions over Taiwan.

Xi said he met with Kerry at the COP27 climate summit as time allowed for the broader negotiations, according to a recording of a briefing Xi gave to a handful of reporters, reviewed by Reuters. He added that there was still much to discuss between the two countries and the results of the talks could only be announced at a later date.

The Chinese negotiator said the talks with the United States were “sincere, friendly, positive and energetic” and that “overall they were very positive.”

Xie was not asked about his reaction to a State Department announcement on Friday that Kerry had tested positive for COVID-19 and completed his work at the COP27 conference in isolation and by phone.

Xie said he could not speculate on the final outcome of COP27, where negotiations have broken down over the weekend. They were supposed to finish on Friday.

“We cannot prejudge the outcome,” he said.

He said China supports work to create a “loss and damage” fund to help poor countries pay for irreversible damage caused by climate change, one of the main sticking points in the talks.

“(It meets the demand of developing countries and represents significant progress),” Xie said of the inclusion of damages and losses on the official agenda.

He added that China shared the views of the largest G77 bloc of developing countries on the loss and damage and was “sincerely optimistic” that an agreement could be reached.

While it is the second largest economy in the world, the United Nations ranks China as a developing country.

Xie said it was the responsibility of developed countries to help poorer countries pay for tackling climate change, but developing countries such as China could contribute loss and damage or other funds on a voluntary basis.

Xie reiterated China’s view that the fund should leave the door open for all developing countries to benefit, differing from an early European Union proposal that it should only be for the most vulnerable countries.

“The recipient should be the developing countries, but it should go to those who need it first,” he said.

Regarding demands at the summit for an agreement to boost efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Xi said developed countries have a greater responsibility.

“We should all make an effort, but not put more burden on developing countries.” (Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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