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John Kerry ‘Hopeful, Not Confident’ China Will Cooperate on Emissions Reduction

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On Thursday, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry said he was “not confident,” but “hopeful” China would do their part to reduce global carbon emissions.

In an interview with India Today‘s Raj Chengappa during a diplomatic trip to India, Kerry expressed his doubts about the prospect of China joining in emissions reforms under the Paris Climate Accord. “I’m hopeful. Not confident at this point. I’m hopeful. Because China is a very important player in this,” he said.

While China pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, analysis by the independent “Climate Action Tracker” says its coal production levels continue to be “inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.” Their contribution thus far is rated “highly insufficient.”

“We want to work with China in doing this. What President Biden has said is, we will have our differences on some issues. We clearly do. So does India,” the former U.S. secretary of state said. “But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the crisis before all of us which requires all of us to respond, and that’s the climate crisis.”

Kerry credited cooperation with China as one of the key factors in the international accord’s formation. “China and the United States cooperated in 2013, 2014, and we were able to announce our joint efforts,” Kerry told Chengappa. “I think that helped significantly to produce [the agreement].”

Kerry also said they will not entangle other political issues with China’s cooperation — or lack thereof. “President Biden has made it clear and I’ve made it clear: None of the other issues we have with China — and there are issues — is held hostage to, or is engaged in a trade for what we need to do on climate,” he said.

On Tuesday, Kerry briefly met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss India’s “climate agenda.” The meeting was reportedly unplanned, and avoided escalating tensions amid Russia’s mounting presence on the Ukraine border. Last week, President Joe Biden held a phone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since becoming president.