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MODERATOR:  Greetings from the U.S. Department of State’s Asia Pacific Media Hub.  I would like to welcome journalists to today’s on-the-record briefing with John F. Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.  Secretary Kerry will take questions from participating journalists regarding his visit to Beijing and his engagement with the PRC on addressing the climate crisis, including with respect to increasing implementation and ambition and promoting a successful COP28. 

Secretary Kerry, thanks for joining us.  I’ll turn it over to you for your opening remarks.  

SECRETARY KERRY:  Can you hear me now?  Hello? 

MODERATOR:  Yes.  Yes, we can, sir.   

SECRETARY KERRY:  Great.  Okay.  Thank you.  Thanks, all, for joining.  Let me cut right to it, if I can.  We came to – “we” being our team here in the United States, the administration – came to Beijing in order to unstick what has been stuck since almost last August.  This is our first in-person meeting with our Chinese counterparts since that time.  And we’re here to break new ground, because we think that’s essential.  But we had a very extensive set of frank conversations and realized that it’s going to take a little bit more work to break the new ground. 

So we’ve agreed that we’re going to meet intensively in the next weeks.  We will have our next meeting, and subsequent meetings will be scheduled ahead of time and on a regular basis so that we can try to make sure the processes in both of our countries are worked correctly, that departments and agencies that are relevant to whatever might be discussed are weighing in appropriately.   

There are things, however, today and yesterday and the day before that we very clearly agreed on.  And we also had solid meetings, which were very cordial, very direct, and very, I think, productive with the vice president of China, with the director general of their foreign policy, and with their Premier Li Qiang.  And I think there are things we clearly agreed on – clearly – out of all of those meetings. 

First of all, we used as a baseline for our meetings the meeting which had previously taken place between President Biden and President Xi in Bali, Indonesia, where the two leaders agreed to jointly work on the on the issue of the climate crisis and to work with other countries, as well as bilaterally.  We both agreed today to continue the bilateral engagement to address the climate crisis, and we also both agreed to do so in the same terminology as a matter of urgency and in recognition of the global and existential nature of this crisis.   

We both expressed our mutual alarm at the best scientific evidence and findings, including the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, which recognizes that the climate crisis has affected each and every country around the world now.  We are both committed to fully implementing the U.S.-China Joint Statement Addressing Climate Crisis that we put out when we were in Shanghai, I believe it was, and then the U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in the 2020s.   

We also both agreed that we need to support the UAE presidency to ensure a successful COP28, and we plan to do that and to work together to try to make sure that COP28 is a success.  Finally, we agreed to work intensively in the weeks ahead, and as I mentioned, our next meeting is going to take place within the next weeks.   

The topics that we agreed will be talked on included, among other things, the scaling and integrating of renewable energy into the power sector in order to reduce coal emissions, and also addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, in order to inform us about the development of the next round of NDCs that will be submitted in 2025, but for the 2035 NDCs.   

So that’s a quick summary.  We agreed to work together towards ambitious and agreed outcomes at COP28, at the IMO, IKO, at the Montreal Protocol, and in other international fora.  And we both committed to make best efforts to try to keep 1.5 degrees as the limit of the warming, to keep that within reach.  

So with that, I’m happy to open it up to questions.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you, sir.  We’ll now turn to the question-and-answer portion of today’s meeting.  Our first question goes to Sha Hua of The Wall Street Journal based in Singapore, who asks: “How would you rate the success of your visit this time as part of the Biden administration’s overall diplomatic strategy of outreach and communication with the PRC?  What were the asks on the Chinese side to enable future U.S.-China climate engagement?”  Over to you, sir.  

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, it’s not my business to be rating it except to declare, as I did a moment ago, that we are satisfied that this was very productive, that we had very constructive and cordial discussions, we all know each other well despite the hiatus of the last year, and everybody is committed to trying to maximize the efforts as much as possible.  So I think in the end the proof is in the pudding of what we achieve in our next meetings as we try to tie the knot on one thought or another about what we can do together, and also how we can have a global impact on issues that matter to the Global South, to the vulnerable countries, to the island states, which rely on all of us who are developed countries, to be able to reduce our emissions and get the job done.  

MODERATOR:  All right.  Our next question goes to — 



SECRETARY KERRY:  Go ahead.  I’m sorry.  

MODERATOR:  Oh, sorry.  Our next question goes to Sayumi Take of Nikkei Asia in Tokyo, Japan, who asks: “Are you working toward any groundbreaking initiatives beyond methane from your talks with the PRC?”  

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, the answer is yes.  We want to break new ground.  I can’t tell you that they’re absolutely – I mean, I don’t want to mix my metaphors here.  But we have serious issues on the table about how to manage emissions more effectively, how to transition from coal-based power more rapidly, how we can have a positive impact together to make the COP successful.  We have thoughts about ways in which we can deal with non-CO2 gases, and I think, broadly speaking, every component of dealing with the climate crisis was on the table.   

We’re discussing a lot of those possibilities, and we’re going to meet shortly in order to continue.  We’re not going to set a time frame on ourselves except to the degree we’re constrained by the date of COP.  But other than that, we’re going to try to move as rapidly as we can to be able to be concrete in whatever new initiatives we think can be taken by our countries.   

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Our next question goes to the live queue to Tim Puko of The Washington Post.  Tim, you should be able to unmute yourself now.   

QUESTION:  Thank you for that.  Secretary Kerry, I just wanted to hear your interpretation of President Xi’s comments this morning and your thoughts on his decision to make them while you’re in town.  Did you at all hear that as an abrogation of China’s commitment to work on climate with international partners diplomatically, especially the U.S., or how do you square that with the conversations – how do you square President Xi’s comments with your own discussion with Xi Jinping and his team on continuing to work together?  

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, all I can tell you is that we had extremely warm and productive meetings with very high-level officials, none of whom expressed that kind of concern.  I think that to the best of my knowledge, there’s no one that my team or otherwise who anybody reacted to with a notion that they’re somehow interfering.  We are only followed – we are only following the best science.  There’s no politics or ideology in what we’re doing.   

And none of the leaders I met with suggested that there was any reason we shouldn’t be coordinating the way we are, working together the way we are with mutual respect.  And we don’t – we’re not involved in dictating anything to anybody.  We’re involved in following the science.  And if anything, the science dictates the parameters that we all need to live by.  So that’s where we are.   

MODERATOR:  Our next question comes from James Griffiths of The Globe and Mail based in Hong Kong who asks: “Do you perceive any shifts in Chinese attitudes on the environment and the pressing need for action on this issue in the wake of the record heat waves we’ve seen in China and other countries and other ongoing climate disasters around the world?”   

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, I think the intensity and sense of urgency has grown for everybody.  And it – China has been a participant in the UNFCCC process, the UN COP process, the Conference of Parties.  They have – since it began, China has participated in that process.  And we have shown in Glasgow, as well as Sharm El-Sheikh, an ability to be constructive, to find the common ground, and to make some good things happen, which is what we’re trying to do now.  

I think China is greatly seized by this issue.  China has produced more renewable energy, more solar and wind than any other country in the world.  They have deployed more of it than any – than the rest of the world put together.  And they are pursuing a very aggressive renewable strategy to try to ultimately reduce their emissions.  We’re going to try to work with China as closely and as constructively as we can to try to accelerate the ability to be able to deploy those technologies.  

But on the other side of that coin, as I mentioned earlier, China has built new coal plants because of the demands of their economy and the demand of their population and their absence of oil and gas, and yet we believe there are other alternatives.  And we’re trying to work with China to figure out the path ahead.  China is working hard to try to develop some of those new technologies as well as to deploy the renewables, which will become the clean energy base of the future.  And we look forward to working with China in order to accelerate that.   

MODERATOR:  Our next question goes to the live queue to Ella Nilsen from CNN based in D.C.  Ella, you should be able to unmute yourself now.   

QUESTION:  Hi, Secretary Kerry.  Thanks so much for doing this call.  I, first of all, just very quickly, wanted to ask if you discussed at all with your Chinese counterparts the U.S. soldier who crossed into North Korea yesterday.   

 And then secondly a climate question.  I was curious if you could drill down a little bit more into the parts of your discussions on coal and just – you mentioned that China obviously is building more coal for its economy.  Did they give any indication about how they view coal right now?  If they are willing to phase it out any faster, especially with the renewable build up that’s happening in the country right now?  Thank you.  

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, coal is one of the issues – obviously, a very significant issue – that’s going to be the subject of our ongoing conversations as it was a subject of conversation here in Beijing now.  And suffice it to say that China fully understands the challenge of moving away from coal dependency, unabated coal dependency, and trying to harness the best energies of the new energy economy of the future.  But that’s a big job, and we all understand it.   

What we’re trying to do, what they signed up to in Glasgow, was to work with us to accelerate that transition.  And what – one of the topics of conversation we had here in Beijing – and we’ll continue – is how can we or others, how do we all help accelerate a transition in a way that doesn’t cripple an economy or reduce people’s ability to use some of the things they need today.  We think there’s great opportunity in our doing that together, and that will be part of our conversation going forward. 

MODERATOR:  Our next question goes to Jiawei-Caroline Chen of The Associated Press in Beijing, China, who submitted it in advance.  She asks: “Has China responded to calls to take more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gases?  Given the current bilateral relations, what can the U.S. offer China that could bring the two sides together to make progress on crucial issues of climate change?” 

SECRETARY KERRY:  Well, the answer is yes, of course China has responded, and they’re working on this as part of a – as I said, the effort to accelerate the transition and reduce emissions and move away from dependency on unabated coal is center – it’s front and center, and we’re working on that.   

But I think China – what we concluded is we need to do some work on defining those particular technologies or alternatives that you ask about that may help make that happen.  We believe, without being intrusive, without stepping on any protocols, that there are ways for the U.S. and others, for our friends in Europe and elsewhere, to be able to help accelerate that transition technologically.  And obviously technology could be utilized by a lot of folks in order to facilitate their effort to make a transition.   

So the key here is working together.  Nobody has cornered the market on all the solutions or all the options for how we do this.  And the key is to keep an open dialogue and to work diligently to sort of pick the best policies, the best approaches, and begin to implement them at a more rapid scale than we have to date. 

MODERATOR:  Okay.  I believe our last question that we have time for will go to Colum Murphy of Bloomberg based in Beijing, who submitted it via the Q&A tab.  Colum asks: “When you were here last time, you met both foreign minister and director of central foreign affairs office, but this time you only met Wang Yi.  Will this have any impact on your engagement with the foreign ministry, as China obviously doesn’t want to tackle it as a climate issue alone?”   

SECRETARY KERRY:  No, on the contrary – I don’t know if you’re counting the folks we met with, but we didn’t only meet with Wang Yi.  We met with Han Zheng, the vice president, and we met with Li Qiang, the premier.  And in addition, we had representatives from various agencies that were part of our talks.  The director generals of any number of the agencies were there.  So we actually met with quite a broad base of people.   

And the conversations we had with the leadership were clear about some of their concerns with respect to security and the marketplace and some of the tensions that are existing between the United States and some other issues.  People were frank about it.  But at the same time, they embraced the criticality of moving with urgency to deal with the climate crisis, because I think they recognize that it is a threat to everything else that everybody is trying to do. 

MODERATOR:  All right.  And with that, Secretary Kerry, if you have any closing remarks, I’ll turn it back over to you, sir. 

SECRETARY KERRY:  No, we’re just happy to stay in touch with you.  As I said, these conversations are going to be fairly intense, because we are trying to break new ground, and that’s hard.  But if we don’t break new ground, it’s going to be even harder to be able to tame the monster that has been created in terms of the climate crisis.  So we have our work cut out for us.  It will take good-faith effort on everybody, and we’re going to need to put certain assumptions aside until proven otherwise to test whether or not we can find cooperation in places that might otherwise go ignored. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you, sir.  That brings us to the end of our time today.  Thank you for your questions, and thanks to Secretary Kerry for joining us.   

We will provide a transcript of this briefing to participating journalists as soon as it is available.  We’d also love to hear your feedback, and you can contact us at any time at  Thanks again for your participation, and we hope you can join us for another briefing soon. 

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U.S. Department of State

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