The U.S. and China might resume climate talks soon, Jerry Brown says


Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! We hope you had a good weekend regardless unseasonably hot weather. Below we have more updates on COP27 climate negotiations underway in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. But first:

The US and China may soon resume climate talks, according to former California governor Jerry Brown

As world leaders gather in Egypt this week for the annual United Nations climate summit, known as COP27China and the United States are no longer talking about their mutual efforts to curb catastrophic global warming, creating another obstacle to the already strained negotiations.

But former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who founded the California-China Climate Institute at the University of California at Berkeley, remains optimistic that the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters will soon resume their cooperation on climate change.

“I think it’s only temporary,” Brown said in a phone interview with The Climate 202 on Friday, referring to Beijing’s decision to suspend climate talks with the United States in retaliation for the visit to the House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Taiwan.

“I suppose China has a level of rationality among its leadership elite,” he added. “And it’s completely irrational not to cooperate with the U.S. on climate. It is — no matter what you think about Taiwan.”

Despite the breakdown in communications at the national level, Brown said leaders of the California-China Climate Institute have continued to engage with their peers at Chinese universities and research institutions.

“At the sub-national level, China is still open to discussion,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve had a solid dialogue, but we still schedule meetings and there’s still an exchange of emails and information.”

Brown said he will not attend COP27, although he will closely monitor the negotiations from his ranch in Colusa County, California. But he predicted that Mary Nicholsdeputy chairman of the institute and former chairman of the institute California Air Resources Boardwill likely try to meet with Chinese officials at the summit.

Asked whether Pelosi’s visit to Taipei was a mistake, Brown hesitated.

“Some people blame China,” he said. “Some people say that the US was unnecessarily provocative. Look, there are multiple perspectives. My only major perspective is that climate needs to occupy a much larger place … in the minds of most political leaders.”

By last year COP26 climate talks in Scotland, the US and China made a joint pledge to take “enhanced climate action” to meet the more ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

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The announcement came after almost 30 meetings between the US climate envoy John F. Kerry and veteran Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua. The men have known each other for years, and in 2014 they helped broker an agreement that paved the way for the Paris Agreement.

Since Beijing broke off talks with Washington, Kerry and Xie have not scheduled further meetings, according to one Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman. But Brown predicted Kerry would try to reconnect with his Chinese counterpart in person during the COP27 talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Whitney Smith, declined to comment on the case. But Kerry recently told the New York Times of Xie: “We’ve been sending each other a few messages to try to figure out how we can resume.”

Still, Kerry emphasized that the decision ultimately rests with the Chinese president Xi Jinpingskipping the climate conference.

In the meantime President Biden will not attend the summit of world leaders on Monday and Tuesday that kicks off the conference, given a scheduling conflict with Tuesday’s midterm elections in which Democrats are expected to fare poorly.

Instead, Biden will travel to Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday before heading to Bali, Indonesia, to Group of 20 summit, the White House confirmed last week.

Some observers have expressed concern that Biden’s initial absence could create a leadership vacuum. But Brown praised the president for attending the summit at all, citing Xi and the Russian president’s expected absence Vladimir Putin.

“He shows up; he takes the flight,” Brown said. “It shows goodwill. So I don’t want to argue about the calendar date.”

It’s imperative, Brown added, that Biden and Xi “find a way to talk” at the G-20.

“They can’t just talk about small things,” he said. “They need to talk about how China can coexist with America. … Maybe both will have to change to make enough room for them to be on the same planet together.”

In a first, the COP27 agenda includes ‘loss and damage’

The official agenda at COP27 includes a discussion on whether rich nations should compensate poor countries for increasing damages associated with climate change, marking the first time the controversial topic will be formally negotiated, Gloria Dickie and Kate Abnett report to Reuters.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries agreed to debate the issue, known as “loss and damage” in international climate talks, despite longstanding opposition from the United States and the European Union.

Pressure to solve the problem has grown amid intensifying weather events in vulnerable countries, including this year’s floods in Pakistan that displaced hundreds of thousands of people and caused about $30 billion in damage, The Washington Post writes. Sarah Kaplan and Susannah George report. Pakistan leads a bloc of more than 100 developing countries calling for a dedicated loss-and-damage fund that hard-hit countries can rely on for immediate aid after a disaster.

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Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday pushed for the creation of a “historic pact” between rich and developing countries to meet global climate goals, stressing that the United States and China have “a special responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality.” The Post’s Allyson Chiu reports.

“We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing,” Guterres said during the opening ceremony of the summit of world leaders, adding: “We are on the highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

British Sunak announces climate investment at COP27

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunakwill unveil more climate investments at COP27 in a bid to reaffirm UK leadership on climate change a year after hosting COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Sunak will pledge that under the UK’s commitment to spend $13.1 billion on international climate finance, the country will triple funding for climate adaptation as part of this budget, from $565.4 million in 2019 to $1.6 billion in 2025.

In addition, the UK will launch Forests and climate leaders’ partnershipa group that will initially include 20 countries and meet twice a year to prevent the loss of the world’s forests.

“By keeping the promises we made in Glasgow, we can turn our fight against climate change into a global mission for new jobs and clean growth,” Sunak told other world leaders on Monday.

The fresh pledges come after Sunak faced backlash from environmentalists and some world leaders for his initial decision not to attend COP27 due to other pressing domestic duties. In a twist, Sunak said last week that he would attend the summit after all and that “there is no long-term prosperity without action on climate change.”

In a shift, the US says businesses are crucial to the success of climate talks

The Biden administration is pushing for companies to strengthen their climate commitments during COP27 and pony up more money to help poor countries cope with climate disasters, which reflects a shift in the US approach to international climate negotiations, writes The Post. Evan Halper and Timothy Puko report.

While government action typically dominates negotiations, businesses are in the spotlight this year as nations grapple with how to finance and implement previously made commitments amid the war in Ukraine and other global crises.

John D. Podestaa senior advisor to President Biden on climate change, said in an interview that government funding alone cannot cover most of what vulnerable countries actually need to cope with the ravages of global warming.

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“We’re talking billions when the need is trillions,” he said. “We have to unlock that [private-sector] capacity for people to invest in building a future with clean energy, otherwise we will miss both the development goals and the climate goals.”

Manchin criticizes Biden’s comments about closing coal plants

That White House spent Saturday trying to quell criticism Late. Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) of President Biden‘s comments suggesting that coal plants across the country should be shut down, The Post’s Eugene Scott and John Wagner report.

Speaking at an event Friday in Carlsbad, Calif., to highlight the Democratic Party’s achievements heading into the midterm elections, Biden championed clean energy and suggested coal plants should be a thing of the past. “We’re going to shut down these plants all over America and have wind and solar,” he said.

Those remarks prompted a rebuke from Manchin, who represents a coal-producing state and has longstanding financial ties to the coal industry.

“Comments like these are why the American people are losing confidence in President Biden,” Manchin said, adding that the remarks were “outrageous and divorced from reality.”

Manchin’s family’s business has made millions taking waste coal from long-abandoned mines and selling it to a power plant in West Virginia. The public spat between the two prominent Democrats comes days before the midterms, when the party risks losing control of both chambers of Congress.

House Republicans release report on ‘war on domestic energy’

Republicans on House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday released a report on what they described as “the Democrats’ war on domestic energy production.”

The 32-page document illustrates how GOP lawmakers on the panel would seek to scrutinize President Bidens energy policy if their party takes control of the House in the midterm elections.

The report claims that Biden and Democrats have “waged war on America’s energy producers, causing energy prices to skyrocket for the American people, killing good-paying energy jobs and jeopardizing our nation’s security.”

It urges the administration to take more steps to increase the production and export of fossil fuels, despite calls from leading scientists to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuels to avert a climate catastrophe.

“Instead of demonizing an industry that provides good-paying jobs and affordable energy to all Americans, Republicans are committed to advancing policy solutions that unlock domestic energy production and put the interests of the American people first,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said in a statement.


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