US climate envoy John Kerry has arrived in Tokyo for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and other officials on cooperation on carbon emissions and cutting support for fossil fuels, especially coal.
Kerry arrived in Japan on Monday and will fly out to China for more climate talks on Tuesday evening – his second trip to the country under US President Joe Biden’s administration.
Talks in the two Asian economic powerhouses will be “to engage with international counterparts on efforts to address the climate crisis,” the US Department of State said in a statement.
The former secretary of state has led US efforts to convince the global community of the threat of climate change and urge the acceleration of efforts to curb carbon emissions. The US push comes in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will be held in Scotland later this year.
During a visit to London last month, Kerry called on global leaders to work together and accelerate actions needed to curb rising temperatures to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. He urged China to join the US in urgently cutting carbon emissions.
China is the world’s top carbon emitter, followed by the United States. Japan is fifth.
In Tokyo, discussions are likely to focus on the country’s continued support for coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Japan is the sole G7 country building coal-fired power stations as it struggles with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which led to the shutdown of most of the country’s reactors.
In Tianjin, China, Kerry will look to build on commitments he helped secure during his visit in April when the two countries agreed to cooperate to curb climate change with urgency. The US envoy is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua.
China, which has set a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, has pledged to “enhance ambition” on curbing climate change and is set to announce new measures before the end of the year.
Activists are watching for any new pledge on coal, with many hoping that Beijing will stop financing overseas coal-fired power plants.
Amid political tension between the two sides, the US has tried to ring-fence climate issues, and Kerry has no authority to discuss any other topics with China.