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Climate Change Added to China Talks

July 10, 2013
melting sea ice

The world's two largest generators of carbon emissions added climate change as a major discussion point for the first time with the opening of another round of US-China talks on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called on his own country and China - the world's largest economies - to meet the "responsibility" of leading the way for the rest of the world in such matters.

"How will we curb climate change?" Kerry asked. "How will we pioneer new energy technology, which is, in fact, the response to climate change? Energy policy is the solution to climate change."

Kerry, along with US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, China's Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi led the discussion group on climate change, which topped the agenda Wednesday.

The economic rivals have been at loggerheads for years over reducing emissions.

China produces 23.5 per cent of world emissions blamed for global warming, while the US produces 18.3 per cent, according to UN estimates.

Due to its status as an industrializing economy, China was exempt from emission controls under the expiring Kyoto Protocol, and the US has argued that it cannot commit to reductions until fast-growing China does the same.

In June, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California, where they agreed to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, which contribute to the greenhouse effect and are used in refrigerators, air conditioners and industrial equipment.

US Vice President Joe Biden, the first speaker Wednesday, said he understood China's desire to "be involved in international rule-setting" but noted that Beijing is "wary about taking additional international burdens on."

"Ultimately, the two go hand in hand, because in 2013, the world's environment, a rule-based economic order, cannot sustain an exception the size of China," Biden admonished. "Your country is simply too immense and too important."

The Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which ends Thursday, will mark the fifth round of such meetings, and will include economic, trade, energy and other issues.

Writing recently in the Washington Post, Yang noted the massive increase in passenger traffic and trade between the two countries, and said that the two presidents were blazing "a new trail that is different from the traditional path of conflict."

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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