John Kerry: U.S. and China Must Work Together to Fight Greenhouse Gas Emissions


When it comes to the U.N.’s make-or-break climate change talks scheduled for December, all eyes are on China. Securing the country’s cooperation is crucial in creating an international climate deal and, ultimately, to saving a planet in peril. In an article published recently on the Financial Times website, Senator John Kerry voiced his views on issue.

He describes China’s relationship to the U.S. as key to successful climate negotiations. When the two countries bridged their political gap in 1972 (with Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing), they established what Kerry refers to as a relationship of “well-known colleagues.” Now, this relationship is being put to the test as the world attempts to transform the energy economy. Kerry is not alone in wondering: will it be possible for the U.S. and China – the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters – to forge a partnership strong enough to avert a climate disaster?

Yet Kerry insists, with our climate at stake, that the U.S.-China relationship be the “blueprint for future collaboration”: that the U.S. exemplify sharing of the climate change burden (instead of shifting the blame for it). Kerry asserts that attempting to force China to accept binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will not be effective. He recommends that, instead, other nations deepen their collaboration on China’s current environmental protection successes: for example, its clean energy solutions and its desire, voiced by some Chinese leaders, to join international climate change negotiations. He also recommends that other nations train specialized workers for sustainability initiatives and continue to improve alternative energy technology, demonstrating that the green economy of the future is already here.

Would Kerry’s technique work, though? Is his analysis a case of magical realism (“if we build it they will come”) or idealism (“be the change you want to see in the world”)? Or is he simply reiterating already-thought thoughts in an effort to regain an international audience?

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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