China Prods U.S. to Do More on Climate Change for Poorer Nations

  • Special envoy on climate seeks access to advanced technology
  • U.S. Secretary of State at separate event endorses Paris deal

China said the U.S. should do more to help developing nations to cope with climate change and bring the Paris deal on greenhouse gases into force, raising an issue that has divided the main presidential contenders.

Speaking in Beijing, one of China’s top climate envoys also praised the U.S. for its efforts to rein in emissions damaging the Earth’s atmosphere and noted that both countries worked together to seal the agreement in Paris in December.

"I believe the U.S. government can do better," in particular by transferring advanced technologies to help developing countries and providing funds to improve their capabilities in tackling climate change and extreme weathers, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative on climate change, said in a briefing on Monday. “As the largest developed country in the world, the U.S. has done a lot in climate change and needs to be recognized. But at the same time, of course, there are a lot more work to do.”

The remark is a reminder that as recently as 2010, China and the U.S. were at odds on how to handle climate change, a division that led Republicans in Washington to oppose the environmental agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and its successors that aim to reduce fossil-fuel pollution.

President Barack Obama’s administration along with Xie in China worked to put the United Nations-led climate talks back on track, resulting in the Paris deal where more than 190 countries pledged voluntary action on the environment.

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has questioned the science behind climate change and pledged to cancel the deal negotiated in Paris. Hillary Clinton, the most-likely candidate for the Democrats, has endorsed Paris.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who succeeded Clinton as secretary of state said at a separate event in Beijing on Monday that “we have to make good on the agreement that we reached last December," according to an e-mailed statement from his department.

"The key is to make sure we bring this agreement into force this year," Kerry said.

The U.S. government has vowed to cut emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent in 2025 from 2005 levels. 

"We fully recognize the efforts of the U.S. government in this regard," Xie said, adding China and the U.S. will push implementation of the Paris climate pact.

— With assistance by Keith Zhai, and Feifei Shen

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