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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Yellen Calls on China to Increase Investments in Climate Finance

On Saturday, the Biden administration urged China, the world’s top producer of greenhouse emissions, to support international climate financing programmes that it has so far rejected to support in order to better assist poor nations in their fight against climate change.

The message was given by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen on the second day of her talks in Beijing, during which she was attempting to develop avenues of collaboration between the United States and China. China has avoided contributing to money to assist impoverished nations adapt to climate change, using its own status as a developing country as an excuse.

Both the United States and China are feeling the heat from developing nations who need help shutting down coal plants, developing renewable energy, or adapting to the effects of climate change through measures like sea wall construction, drainage system upgrades, and cyclone early warning systems.

In an effort to aid developing nations, the United States donated $3 billion over four years to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund under President Barack Obama. It has paid out $2 billion of that total so far. Republicans have repeatedly tried to prevent tax dollars from going towards the fund and other climate financing, but President Biden has utilised State Department discretionary funds to make good on the country’s commitment.

Studies show that China has provided around 10% of the $3.1 billion it committed. Through what its founders term “South-South” cooperation, it also provides financial aid to underdeveloped countries. Even though China today boasts the largest manufacturing sector of any country, it is still classified as a developing country by the United Nations climate authority. With the argument that mature economies like the United States have been polluting for far longer, China has resisted efforts to contribute to the same climate funds as wealthier countries.

Any substantial contribution from China, according to John Morton, a former climate counsellor for the Treasury Department during the Biden administration, might benefit the United States in convincing members of Congress and others to support climate funding. He said that the two heavyweights may be able to cooperate in other ways to assist poor countries reduce their reliance on coal and methane, a strong greenhouse gas released from oil and gas wells.

As co-chairs of the G20’s Sustainable Finance Working Group, the United States and China are in a unique position to collaborate on climate issues on a global scale.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visited China in June, and now Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen is following in his footsteps. To revive global warming discussions between the world’s two greatest polluters, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, John Kerry, will visit later in July.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday that President Biden would be attending a forum in London on Tuesday to discuss methods of mobilising climate finance, specifically “bringing private finance off the sidelines,” for the deployment and adaptation of clean energy in developing countries.

After years of rising mistrust, exacerbated by trade battles and export limits for sensitive technology, Ms. Yellen has been in China for four days hoping to restore the lines of communication with her colleagues in Beijing. This week, Ms. Yellen voiced her displeasure with how China treats foreign firms in talks, but she also said that more regular communication between senior officials would help avoid policy mistakes from escalating.

On Friday in Beijing, the Treasury secretary met with Premier Li Qiang to talk about climate funding. She will be meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier He Lifeng, on Saturday afternoon.

China’s increased construction of coal-fired power stations and expansion of coal mines in the last two years has raised alarm bells in Washington.

Officials in China have said that they want to eliminate all carbon emissions by the year 2060, with the process beginning no later than 2030. Furthermore, China is the global leader in solar power installation and solar panel exports.

China is increasing its coal use in part because it fears being cut off from its supply of imported oil and natural gas in a time of crisis.

Experts in China’s power sector predict that the country’s new coal-fired power plants would be put to service mostly during periods of high energy demand. However, opponents argue that once the plants are operational, they would permanently harm the environment.

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