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US, China climate envoys meet for talks

John Podesta (left) and Liu Zhenmin, the climate envoys of US and China (Photo credit: Reuters)

New climate envoys of the United States and China met for their first in-person talks in Washington and discussed action on climate with an emphasis on accelerating the next steps to be taken during this decade, amid trade tensions between the two countries.

The New York Times reported that the Biden administration’s top climate diplomat John Podesta and China’s special envoy for climate change Liu Zhenmin headed talks that began on May 8 and will continue Thursday (local time). Among the topics on the agenda are climate financing, efforts to reduce methane and other non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, the White House said in a statement.

The development comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference or the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, commonly known as COP29 in Azerbaijan this November.

The Biden administration has issued a probe into Chinese-made electric vehicles, or EVs, and calls to increase tariffs on the import of solar panels from China to protect domestic producers.

In 2023, ahead of the COP28 in Dubai, US former Secretary of State, John Kerry and China’s former Climate Minister, Xie Zhenhua released the Sunnylands statement on Enhancing Cooperation to address the climate crisis.

It was the outcome of talks between Kerry and Xie in Beijing from July 16-19, 2023 and at Sunnylands in California from November 4- 7. In the declaration, the two countries agreed to jointly tackle global warming by ramping up wind, solar and other renewable energy with the goal of displacing fossil fuels.

According to Voice of America report, the climate envoys are likely to steer clear of electric vehicles as an area for climate cooperation because they have become a huge area of tension.

The Biden administration has said it would investigate Chinese-made digitally connected vehicles, citing potential national security risks and concerns over their capability to collect sensitive information about American users, VoA reported.

Podesta had earlier this year announced that the White House was setting up a new climate Climate and Trade Task Force, with three focus areas- addressing carbon leakage, carbon dumping, and to take steps internationally to promote common measurement and high standards on embodied emissions.