Climate Weekly – US-China talks stall but survive

Sign up to get our weekly newsletter straight to your inbox, plus breaking news, investigations and extra bulletins from key events

US China's climate cooperation

The US and Chinese climate envoys John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua at the World Economic Forum (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)


When Presidents Biden and Xi sat down together at the G20 in Bali last December and agreed to co-operate on climate change despite differences on Taiwan, the climate world celebrated.

But since then, it’s all gone quiet. We looked into why and the answers are personal and geopolitical.

The two sides’ climate relationship is heavily reliant on the personal relationship of their climate envoys, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua.

They’re both in their seventies and climate diplomacy is hard work.

A month after Kerry caught Covid at Cop27, Xie suffered what Kerry described as  “something of a stroke”, leaving him incapacitated for weeks and unable to travel abroad ever since.

Then there was the Chinese spy balloon scandal and the visit of Taiwan’s president to California to meet Congressional leader Kevin McCarthy.

But the relationship seems to have survived as Kerry has been invited to China for climate talks. Formal cooperation on methane emissions, the energy transition and saving forests could follow.

This week’s news: 

Kerry and an unconfirmed Chinese representative will join 38 other ministers in Berlin on Tuesday, as the climate circus comes to town for the annual Petersberg climate dialogue.

After the opening speeches, in which the UAE’s Sultan Al-Jaber will lay out his vision for Cop28, the government officials will sit in circles around flip charts to talk.

That health-check on progress since the Paris Agreement was signed will dominate climate talks to Cop28 and beyond so we’ve published a handy explainer.

You can watch all the public parts here with opening speeches at 10.30am German time on Tuesday and a closing press conference at 1.45pm on Wednesday followed by words from German leader Olaf Scholz.

Read more on: China | US | |