After Months of Silence, Chinese and U.S. Climate Envoys Briefly Speak
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Mr. Xie had said China supported an idea that has been gaining ground — that rich, polluting nations pay developing countries for loss and damage caused by climate change.
Poor countries have been demanding that compensation, arguing that they contribute relatively little to the pollution that is heating the planet but suffer disproportionately. China, which is considered a developing country by the United Nations, would not contribute to such a fund, Qian Zhang, a representative of the Chinese delegation, said.
For decades, wealthy nations, which have emitted half of all heat-trapping gasses since 1850, have avoided calls to help poor countries recover from climate disasters, fearing that doing so could open them to unlimited liability. And, as a legal and a practical matter, it has been extraordinarily difficult to define “loss and damage” and determine what it might cost and who should pay how much.
But at the summit this week, several European countries, including Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Denmark, have promised specific contributions to such a fund, while the president of the European Union endorsed the idea. The United States says it is willing to discuss such a plan but has made no commitment to funding it.
Mr. Kerry, 78, and Mr. Xie, 73, both came out of retirement to take on their countries’ top climate positions, and have worked together on some of the defining international policy breakthroughs of the last decade.
At last year’s U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, they worked together to announce that both of their countries would do more to cut the greenhouse gases from burning oil, gas and coal that are driving climate change. The terms of the deal weren’t groundbreaking, but it was a signal to other nations to step up their ambitions.