Janet Yellen urges China to boost funding to tackle climate crisis

US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has pressed China to do more to support international climate institutions that are helping finance green initiatives around the world, urging deeper cooperation in addressing the “existential threat” of global heating.

“Climate finance should be targeted efficiently and effectively,” Yellen said on Saturday in Beijing during a meeting with Chinese and international sustainable finance experts. “I believe that if China were to support existing multilateral climate institutions like the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Investment Funds alongside us and other donor governments, we could have a greater impact than we do today.”

Her comments, during a four-day trip to Beijing that follows secretary of state Antony Blinken’s visit, come as the United States seeks to cool tensions and stress areas of collaboration between the world’s two biggest economies.

“As the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases and the largest investors in renewable energy, we have both a joint responsibility – and ability – to lead the way,” Yellen said, underlining a key area of cooperation despite difficult bilateral relations.

“Climate change is at the top of the list of global challenges, and the United States and China must work together to address this existential threat,” she said.

China last year briefly said it was suspending talks on the climate after Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the House of Representatives, visited Taiwan – the self-ruling democracy claimed by Beijing.

Highlighting some of those tensions, China’s People’s Liberation Army sent 13 aircraft and six vessels into the airspace and waters around Taiwan in the 24 hours to early Saturday.

But there are signs that climate talks might restart soon, with US envoy John Kerry due to travel to China soon to discuss cooperation on climate change, a US official said on Friday.

Besides working together on climate, Yellen said in a Friday meeting with Chinese premier Li Qiang it was also key that Washington and Beijing closely communicated on global economic and financial affairs – while making joint efforts on international challenges such as debt distress.

On Saturday, in addition to meeting people involved in climate finance, Yellen is also expected to speak to women economists and see Vice-Premier He Lifeng, a key Chinese economic official.

And a key question is whether “big-ticket items that are in the category of global challenges”, like debt distress and climate cooperation, get bumped to the top of the agenda, said Lindsay Gorman, senior fellow for emerging technologies at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Yellen’s talks on Saturday follow meetings with US businesses, which have expressed a host of concerns about China, ranging from fair competition with local businesses, reduced people-to-people exchanges, and an uncertain business climate in the face of a national security crackdown.

Any improvement in the US-China relationship will help US companies there, improve investment sentiment and create more opportunity to cooperate, Michael Hart, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, told AFP.

With Agence France-Presse


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