As U.S. and China Resume Climate Talks, Here’s Where Things Stand

As U.S. and China Resume Climate Talks, Here’s Where Things Stand

But she added, “The question is whether it is in a position to talk about phasing coal out faster.”

Despite its enormous economy and emissions, China tries to position itself as a defender of the developing world. For nearly two decades, China has been the biggest national emitter, but its average pollution per person is lower than in most wealthy countries, and Beijing has long maintained that those nations should shoulder a greater burden in cutting greenhouse gases and financing global action. Mr. Xie and other officials are likely to reinforce that message. Chinese officials may also press Mr. Kerry on tariffs that Washington has imposed on Chinese-made solar panels.

“The U.S. has quite a bit of leverage in other areas outside of climate, especially trade, so China is likely hoping that positive steps on climate help alleviate tensions on other fronts,” said Qi Qin, a China energy analyst for the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, an organization with headquarters in Finland.

China-watchers are keeping expectations low for this meeting, in part because the Chinese government, like most governments, doesn’t like to appear as if it has been pressured to act. Observers don’t expect big new pronouncements on emissions targets or cutting coal.

“I don’t think they’re going to want to seem like John Kerry came there and told them what to do,” said Michael Greenstone, an economics professor at the University of Chicago.

One possible outcome is that both countries agree to regular U.S.-China meetings on climate change. Experts say that would be a strong outcome and could smooth the way for the United Nations climate summit slated for November in Dubai.

Ms. Qin, the energy analyst, noted that recent visits to Beijing by Mr. Blinken, the secretary of state, and Ms. Yellen, the Treasury secretary, did not bring about major agreements. Instead, Ms. Qin said, these meetings “might serve as groundwork for a top leaders’ summit later this year, which is where we might expect something more tangible.”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting.

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