US climate envoy John Kerry confirmed to CNN that formal climate talks with China have restarted at the UN’s COP27 summit in Egypt, lifting a months-long freeze on negotiations and showing an early sign of concrete results from a meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Bali earlier this week.
Asked to confirm whether formal talks between the US and China have resumed, Kerry said: “Yes, we are talking.”
The nations are the world’s two biggest polluters and their cooperation is crucial if the world is to avert catastrophic climate change. When Kerry and his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, announced that their countries would work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year, it was a rare piece of good news in the otherwise very gloomy climate space.
But the cooperation abruptly ended in August when China suspended the talks in response to US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
In talks with Xi at the G20 summit in Bali on Monday, Biden underscored the importance of the world’s two largest emitters continuing to work on climate and lowering emissions, among other issues. The leaders “agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts on these and other issues,” a White House readout of the meeting said.
The Biden administration is waiting to see what China is prepared to do to make concrete progress, a US official previously told CNN.
A statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the “two countries will jointly work for the success of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
Kerry and Xie have been meeting on the sidelines of the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh this week and last, but the exchanges had been informal and not part of the formal climate talks. Kerry told CNN last week that his hope coming into Egypt was to restart the formal conversation.
“Our hope is that with a short span of time, it will become possible for us to really get together again in full measure and do the things we need to be doing as the two leading emitters in the world and as the two largest economies in the world,” he said.
“China and the United States really need to cooperate on this. And without China, even if the US is as we are moving towards a 1.5-degree program, which we are if we don’t have China, nobody else can make to that goal.”
CNN’s Kylie Atwood, Ella Nilsen, Martin Goillandeau, David McKenzie and Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.