Fight for power of the United States and China on display at climate summit

Disputes over commitments to address climate change are the latest flash point in tensions between the United States and China.

Biden, in recent days, has rebuked China, saying that President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip a UN climate summit was a “big mistake” because it would diminish Beijing’s influence. Subsequently, China struck back at the United States over criticism.

The sparks show that even on issues that require international cooperation like climate change, the tense relationship between the United States and China still resonates.

World leaders and top negotiators are currently meeting in Glasgow, where they will make climate announcements and work to finalize the implementation rules of the global Paris Agreement.

Biden attended the conference for two days and will also send a large delegation of cabinet secretaries. While China also has a delegation, Xi chose not to attend.

“The fact that China, trying to understandably assert a new role in the world as a world leader, doesn’t show up? Let’s go. The most important thing that has caught the world’s attention is the weather, everywhere, ”Biden told reporters on Tuesday. “It is just a gigantic problem, and they are gone. How do you do that and claim to have some mantle of leadership? “

China responded and Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “Actions speak louder than words.”

“What we need to tackle climate change are concrete actions rather than empty words,” he said. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”

By going, Biden may try to leave a positive impression on America’s commitment to climate change, while Xi missed an opportunity to interact directly with other world leaders.

During the climate summit, Biden also hosted a session on the Build Back Better World Initiative, a global infrastructure plan that he launched with other world leaders over the summer that aims to be a climate-friendly alternative to the Strip Initiative and the China route for developing countries.

Jennifer Turner, director of the Wilson Center’s China Environmental Forum, said that although Xi was not there, China “is still in the driver’s seat.”

“The world has to engage with them,” Turner said, noting that China is the world’s largest emitter.

But he added that it could be an opportunity for the Biden administration to “reignite all clean energy relationships” that were undermined under the Trump administration.

And America’s climate policy can vary wildly depending on who is in power. Morgan Bazilian, a former EU representative during the UN climate change negotiations, told The Hill that this fact made the US presence all the more important.

“Biden had to appear at the COP this year to show that America was back at the table,” Bazilian said. “I’m not sure it’s that important for other heads of state to show up unless they have something to communicate.”

However, Charles Kupchan, who served on the National Security Council under the Obama administration, said the absence of both China and Russia from the Group of 20 and COP26 meetings should serve as a red flag.

“I think the fact that neither Russia nor China have come forward to the G20 or COP26 underscores the degree to which we have a problem, and that problem is that global governance today requires cooperation across ideological dividing lines, and not we’re there though, and if we get there, it’s an open question, ”Kupchan said.

US officials have repeatedly characterized China’s climate actions as insufficient. The country plans to peak its global warming emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2060.

He also announced at a virtual White House meeting earlier this year that he would reduce his coal use beginning in 2026 and “strictly limit” his increase in coal use until then.

The 2060 goal is a decade behind the US and many other developed countries.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world needs to achieve net zero emissions around 2050.

He has said that limiting warming to this level would help avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

But China has responded that the United States had more time to develop while it is still developing and therefore deserves more time to move away from fossil fuels.

A group of countries that includes China recently issued a statement saying that a global push to net zero by 2050 would exacerbate inequality.

Meanwhile, the US and the EU recently also put China at a commercial disadvantage by targeting “dirty” steel.

They announced a partnership in which they plan to negotiate a deal to address the “carbon intensity and global overcapacity” of steel and aluminum products.

Turner said the move would “shut down” China on the steel trade.

And some politicians also saw it as a problem related to China, to the Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown White House, Bank Watchdogs Call For Tighter Oversight Of Stable Coins Graham Told Officers Jan 6 To Use Their Guns Against Rioters – Report Biden’s Framework Includes 0B For Affordable Housing MORE (D-Ohio) called the deal in a statement an “important first step in addressing overcapacity and dumping of Chinese steel that has cost Ohio jobs.”

Biden has established a broader foreign policy strategy toward China that involves managing and succeeding in competition with China, but avoiding conflict.

Still, tensions between the United States and China have flared on a variety of fronts, including Chinese military activity near Taiwan. At times, Biden’s firm line on China on human rights abuses and other practices has complicated his administration’s climate efforts. Earlier this year, the Biden administration banned imports of solar material from a Chinese company that officials say engages in forced labor practices.

Biden is expected to meet Xi virtually sometime before the end of the year for his first bilateral engagement with his Chinese counterpart since taking office.

The administration maintains that it can confront China in areas of disagreement or concern and find ways to work with Beijing in areas of mutual interest.

“Precisely because we live in a world that is so globalized and interdependent, we are going to have to learn to compete where we need to and cooperate where we have to and that will require compartmentalization,” Kupchan said.

“We will not agree with the Chinese on Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights, trade, and at the same time we will seek ways to work with them on climate, global health, cyber issues and nuclear proliferation.” he said.

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