Remarks at the Top of the Joint Session on Climate Change and Clean Energy

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Vice Premier Wang Yang
Diaoyutai State Guest House
Beijing, China
July 9, 2014

STATE COUNCILOR YANG: (Via translator) Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Lew, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad that you join me in today's special session for climate change. Climate change is a common and grave challenge to the mankind. It has (inaudible) impact, and its impact (inaudible) across all sectors of the economy and society. Facing this global challenge, the international community must work together, strengthen cooperation, and attack all these challenges and threats together.

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to climate change, and domestically has launched a number of projects, including readjusting economic structure, improving energy (inaudible), handle excessive production capacity, prevent air pollution, and ecological restorations. We have also actively promoted a green and a low-carbon transformation of the way of life, the way of production (inaudible), take an active part in the international community's efforts to tackle climate change. And we support consensus-building and cooperation within the UNFCCC framework.

China and the United States are both big nations, in terms of energy consumption and production. We have important common interests and huge cooperation potential on climate change. We have also maintained close dialogue in consultation on our respective climate change policies, and have been working actively to promote bilateral practical cooperation. The international climate change -- in negotiations we have also had effective coordination and made our important contribution to global efforts to respond to climate change.

Since the summit at (inaudible), President Xi and President Obama have also had in-depth of exchange of views on (inaudible) on climate change. They have reached important agreement on China and United States working together to enhance climate change dialogue, policy, and practical cooperation.

Over the past one year, since the establishment of Climate Change Working Group, the two teams have maintained close contact and worked effectively, and their contributions have been recognized by the leaders of our two countries. Given this new situation, we must work even harder, so that climate change will be a new (inaudible), highlighting our cooperation, and we will contribute to efforts to build a new model on major country relationship between the two countries. We must observe the rules and principles of the UNFCCC, in particular the principle of (inaudible) responsibilities, and the principle of equity, and the principle of respective capability. We must also work together to ensure that the climate change conference in Paris in 2015 will reach agreement on post-2020 climate change actions.

We must give full scope to the coordinating role of our bilateral Climate Change Working Group, accommodate each other's concerns, actively explore cooperation, timely address problems. And to demonstrate our resolve and capability of action to respond to climate change, we must also expand cooperation on energy, in particular the mutually beneficial cooperation in liquefied natural gas, non-conventional natural gas, clean coal, clean energy, and energy conservation, work together to build a green and a low-carbon future. And I am confident that, with our joint efforts, this special session on climate change will help us to further increase our mutual understanding, promote cooperation, and ensure greater success in our joint efforts to tackle climate change. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much, State Councilor. We are grateful to you for bringing together key officials in this room, a number of whom I have worked with before. We are very grateful for the cooperation that we have had with respect to this. Every one of us in this room (inaudible) are well aware that the climate crisis is one that respects no border. It is trans-boundary. It affects the planet. And, for better or worse, we are now aware of the consequences of inaction in ways that we have never been before.

The United States and China, because we have very robust economies, because we have been economic powerhouses, have also had a side effect of that, which is we, together, are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. So, the significance of our coming together like this really can't be understated. If we are working hard to find a solution together, that can have an impact on the rest of the world. And we are grateful for the cooperation that we have had for the last year, since we began this particular session, in finding new projects to work on and new ways to do it. Our combined innovative entrepreneurial ability ought to be able to find any number of different alternatives, and that is what we are working on.

As you know, people around the world are demanding action. We recently had a conference on the oceans in Washington, and one of the side effects of climate change impact of greenhouse gases is the rapid acidification of the oceans, and the impact on the ecosystem. And in the course of that, we heard from people in the Pacific Islands, for instance, who are watching sea levels rise now. Whole nations are threatened.

President Obama has made climate change a top priority. We are now working across our government in an all-government effort on the President's climate action plan. We are doubling the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks on America's roads. We have developed new standards that will ensure that power plants are clean, and they are as efficient as possible. And we will be seeing a number of our old, inefficient plants that are coal-based begin to be retired, as they switch to different fuels, or to different power sources. We are also committed to reaching our international target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

All of these are big steps. But I have to emphasize to you nothing that the United States does alone, nothing that Europe does alone, nothing that any country does alone will be able to do the job.