The Biden administration on Saturday called on China to do more to help developing countries fight climate change, which has so far refused to support international climate finance funds, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen delivered the message during her second day of meetings in Beijing, where she will seek to foster areas of cooperation between the United States and China. While China supports programs to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change, it argues that it is a developing country and opposes paying into such funds.
China and the United States share a common interest in climate change, Ms. Yellen said.
« Climate finance must be efficiently and effectively targeted, » Ms Yellen said during a meeting with a panel of Chinese and international sustainable finance experts on Saturday morning. « I believe that if China supports multilateral climate institutions like the Green Climate Fund and Climate Investment Funds with us and other donor governments, we can have a bigger impact than we do today. »
The U.S. and China are facing pressure from developing countries to raise more money for countries struggling to close coal plants, build renewable energy or deal with the effects of climate change, such as building seawalls, improving drainage or pre-development. Warning systems for floods and cyclones.
Under President Barack Obama, the United States pledged $3 billion over four years to the United Nations-led Green Climate Fund, which aims to help poor countries. It has so far delivered $2 billion in pledges. Republicans have repeatedly tried to block taxpayer spending on the fund and other climate funding, but President Biden has used discretionary spending within the State Department to fulfill part of the U.S. pledge.
China pledged $3.1 billion, and studies show it has provided about 10 percent. Its leaders provide money to developing countries through « South-South » cooperation. This is because under the United Nations climate system, China is still considered a developing country, not an industrialized country, even though China now has a much larger manufacturing sector than any other country. It has long resisted pressure to contribute to the same climate funds as wealthy nations, arguing that advanced economies like the United States are long-polluting and bear more responsibility for tackling climate change.
China’s climate ambassador Xie Zhenhua said in an interview last year that « it is not China’s duty to provide financial assistance » under United Nations climate rules, after creating a new multilateral fund to help poor countries cope with economic losses from climate disasters. .
John Morton, a former Treasury Department climate adviser under the Biden administration, said any meaningful contribution from China would help the U.S. get Congress and others to approve climate funding. He added that there could be other ways for the two superpowers to work together to help developing countries reduce coal use or to reduce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that leaks from oil and gas wells.
« That would be a huge consequence for the world, » he said. « Any time there is an opportunity to establish a closer relationship with China on climate, it is an opportunity that should be taken immediately. »
The United States and China are co-chairs of the Group of 20 Sustainable Finance Working Group, giving both countries an opportunity to work more closely on global climate matters.
Mrs. Yellen is the second Biden administration cabinet member to visit China in recent weeks; Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken was there in June. In late July, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, John Kerry, will visit to restart global warming talks between the world’s two biggest polluters.
In addition, President Biden will attend a forum in London on Tuesday aimed at finding ways to raise climate finance specifically to « sideline private finance for clean energy deployment and adaptation in developed countries, » White House national security adviser Jack Sullivan said Friday.
During her four-day trip to China, after years of growing distrust over trade wars and export restrictions on sensitive technology, Ms. In meetings this week, Ms. Yellen was critical, but frequent conversations between top officials could help prevent policy misunderstandings from festering.
The Treasury Secretary also discussed climate finance in a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Friday in Beijing.
On Saturday afternoon he met with Vice Premier He Lifeng, who oversees China’s economy.
Over the past two years, China has been building more coal-fired power plants and expanding coal mines, prompting concern in Washington.
Chinese officials have said they plan to completely eliminate carbon emissions by 2060, starting by 2030. And China leads the world in solar installations and exports solar panels to other countries.
China is doubling down on coal use for national security reasons — it doesn’t want to rely heavily on imported oil and natural gas, which could be cut off in times of crisis.
China’s power experts say new coal-fired power plants will be used mainly at peak power demand, not 24 hours a day. But critics say the plants, once built, will inevitably damage the climate in the long term.
After speaking with climate finance experts and having lunch with a group of Chinese women economists, Ms. Yellen is expected to sit down on Saturday and hold an extension with her new Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier He Lifeng. He began working closely with Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, in the 1980s when both held economic development posts in Xiamen, in southeast China’s Fujian province.
Mr. He has played a key role in national economic planning since 2014, and in March Mr. Sheal was elevated. years. Mr. He has rarely met with foreign officials or business executives in recent years, and many of his private views on policy are shrouded in mystery, prompting a strong desire by U.S. officials to establish more communication with him.
Mr. At the beginning of the meeting with him, Mrs. Yellen said, « If we have any concerns about specific economic practices, we should address them directly, and we will. »