US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called on China to collaborate with the United States in combating the “existential threat” of climate change. During her visit to Beijing, Yellen emphasized that as the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, both countries share a joint responsibility to lead the way in climate action. She urged China to support the US-led Green Climate Fund and work together to mitigate the impact of climate change on developing nations.
Yellen’s visit aims to improve relations between the two nations, with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng expressing regret over recent incidents that have strained US-China ties. Notably, there has been no formal cooperation on climate change between the two countries since the administration of former President Donald Trump. China briefly suspended climate talks with the US last year after a visit by senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.
In an effort to resume cooperation, Yellen called on China to join forces with the US in addressing climate change and supporting institutions like the Green Climate Fund. This fund was established to assist developing nations in adapting to climate change and mitigating its effects. Yellen emphasized that as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and significant investors in renewable energy, both countries possess the responsibility and capability to lead in this area.
While China has become the world’s largest investor in solar energy and a major producer of solar panels and wind turbines, its carbon dioxide emissions rose by 4% in the first quarter of this year compared to 2022. In contrast, the US has invested billions of dollars in initiatives to combat climate change, but its emissions slightly increased last year. Bridging the gap between the two nations’ approaches remains a challenge, as China maintains that it is still a developing country and expects the US and Europe to bear the financial burden of the energy transition due to their historical emissions.
Yellen’s visit follows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing last month, aimed at easing tensions and restoring diplomatic ties. While challenges remain, both visits indicate a desire for improved communication and engagement between the two superpowers. However, recent remarks by President Joe Biden referring to President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” highlight the ongoing complexities in the relationship. The trade dispute between the US and China also persists, with China announcing tightened controls on the export of materials crucial for computer chip production.