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EXPLAINER: On China, US and climate, action, not talk is key

The final two agreements the planet designed to battle climate change came only following the USA and China, undoubtedly both biggest carbon polluters, made deals with one another. Now the successful dynamic is in danger with China cutting off climate talks with the U.S. due to House Speaker Nancy Pelosis visit to Taiwan.

The amount of this can sidetrack momentum — especially in america where theres congressional action to cut emissions of heat-trapping gas depends upon just how long the rift extends, experts said. However they said theres hope that climate actions already set in place in both countries will matter a lot more than unspoken words.

Chinas announcement that its suspending talks on climate change isn’t surprising, nonetheless it definitely stings, said Joanna Lewis, a specialist on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University. I am hoping this is just a temporary pause.

The brief notice issued on Friday by Chinas Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave few details and was largely centered on ceasing military and strategic meetings.

Halting climate talks between your U.S. and China imperils progress at a worldwide climate summit in November, and specifically direct cooperation on thorny technical issues linked to reducing methane emissions, said Lewis.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said Friday, Suspending cooperation doesnt punish america it punishes the planet, specially the developing world. The human and financial cost will undoubtedly be catastrophic if countries cant reserve differences to handle climate change.

CLIMATE ACTION IN THE HOME

Because both nations arent speaking with one another about climate doesnt mean they’re not acting, experts say.

What the U.S and China already have to accomplish to curb emissions is take strong actions domestically and I dont believe the primary impetus for either side at this time is pressure from international negotiations, said Deborah Seligsohn, a specialist on Chinas politics and energy at Villanova University and a former U.S. diplomat.

Longtime climate negotiations analyst Alden Meyer of the independent think tank E3G said theres an excellent chance for the U.S. and, then in response, China taking big steps to attempt to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases even though they arent talking one-on-one.

The U.S. Congress is poised to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, the offer struck by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Calling it the U.S.s most crucial climate bill ever, Nigel Purvis, CEO of Climate Advisers, said that passage could be more meaningful when compared to a breakdown in bilateral talks. China will have to react to that new climate change bill appearing out of Congress even though climate talks are suspended, he said.

Specifically, pledges of public investment in developing and commercializing advanced clean technologies are certain to get Chinas attention, experts say. Thats because China hopes to dominate global clean energy markets.

Its significant that arguably both biggest domestic actions the U.S. and China took on climate change have happened at the same time of continually increasing rivalry between your two countries perhaps theres a lesson for the reason that, said Scott Moore, Director of China Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania.

As the U.S. is poised to pass its most crucial climate legislation this season, Chinas leader Xi Jinping announced the countrys target to become carbon neutral by 2060 at a US meeting in September 2020. And Xi pledged that China would stop building overseas coal-fired power plants at a U.N. meeting this past year.

Given their different government systems, what counts most in China is top-level targets, while what counts in the U.S. is in fact passing legislation, said Villanovas Seligsohn.

GLOBAL CLIMATE TALKS

Its not yet determined whether Chinas announcements cutting off talks applies and then top negotiators John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, or even to research and cooperation at all levels, which may be worse, said E3Gs Meyer.

But he said it could be an excellent sign if multilateral negotiations, like the G-20 where in fact the U.S. and China often co-lead talks, continue.

Historically, climate deals often proceed through Beijing and Washington.

Once the U.S. and China have discovered common ground, it has tended to supply a model for all of those other world, Purvis said.

A joint U.S.-China deal to fight climate change struck by Xi and then-President Barack Obama in 2014 really helped enhance the mood and laid groundwork for the 2015 Paris agreement where just about any nation pledged to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases, Meyer said. Then seven years later during U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, a U.S.-China deal helped smooth over bumps to some other international climate deal.

Until recently, climate diplomacy had stayed a rare section of dialogue and also collegiality as Bidens and Xis governments confronted each other on human rights, Chinas territorial claims, tariffs along with other topics. Kerry and Xie, both senior leaders in government service, have spoken by telephone often and appeared hand and hand at global events.

Losing that avenue of cooperation is really a strong signal from China, said University of Pennsylvanias Moore. Climate has been the main one issue that, on both sides, there is an effort to insulate and operate on separate tracks, insulated from broader tensions in the partnership, he said. But that may not be possible anymore.

AP writers Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to the article.

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Follow APs climate and environment coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears and Christina Larson at @larsonchristina.

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Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about APs climate initiative here. The AP is solely in charge of all content.

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