SHANGHAI: Climate change diplomacy between China and the US cannot be divorced from broader political issues between the two countries, and Washington must accept blame for the breakdown in discussions, according to China’s foreign ministry.
Nearly 200 countries are preparing to convene in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for another round of global climate talks, but diplomatic tensions between the two major suppliers of climate-warming greenhouse gases have threatened to overshadow the summit, known as COP27.
Agreements and joint declarations signed by Beijing and Washington aided the passage of the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, but China halted all bilateral conversations in August following the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by China.
“China and the United States previously built good cooperation in the area of climate change, working together to achieve and implement the Paris Agreement,” a foreign ministry official said late Thursday.
“At the same time,” the spokesperson continued, “China-US climate cooperation cannot be divorced from the broader environment of bilateral ties,” saying that Pelosi’s “severe breach of Chinese sovereignty” in Taiwan had forced China to suspend the negotiations.
“The US side must accept responsibility for this.”
The spokesperson stated that China has not ceased collaboration with other nations and would continue to support the multilateral climate negotiation process, adding that China is “ready to engage and cooperate with all parties” to ensure the success of COP27.
Hopes for COP27 were already low due to global concerns about energy supplies caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the worsening China-US relationship has lowered those expectations even further, according to experts.
“The US-China collaboration on climate commitments has actually benefited in the past,” said Frank Jotzo, head of the Australian National University’s Center for Climate and Energy Policy.
“It just doesn’t exist any longer, and there’s really not much chance of it reappearing,” he stated at a press conference on Thursday.