Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry says the tensions between the United States and China are hurting the talks he was having on the climate.
Kerry, who holds a cabinet-level position in the Biden administration — that did require a Senate confirmation — and has authority over energy and climate policy within the executive branch, told Axios that the tensions between the two counties are hurting the talks.
“Regrettably, in the last year … what was not supposed to happen has happened, which is the climate issue has gotten mixed up into all the other tensions that exist between our countries,” Kerry told Axios at the CERAWeek. “And so they’ve kind of pulled back a little bit, expressing the feeling that all we’re doing is bashing them and bashing them.”
The two countries made a joint declaration in late 2021 on taking aggressive action toward emissions. Axios noted Kerry also had a “productive working relationship” with his Chinese counterpart going back to the Obama administration (when Biden was also vice president). However, Kerry last spoke to his Chinese counterpart about a month ago but noted that the person had recently been ill.
Last month, it was reported that he had been holding climate negotiations with his Chinese counterpart, which House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) decided to probe recently, as Kerry has not released details of his meetings.
Comer requested some transparency to understand Kerry’s activities while sitting on the National Security Council and Biden’s cabinet. Kerry’s position, which did not exist before President Joe Biden appointed him, is housed in the State Department with an estimated annual budget of $13.9 million and 45 personnel, according to Fox News.
As Kerry noted, tensions between China and the U.S. appear to have grown over the last year, specifically in the previous month.
In early February, the U.S. military shot down a Chinese balloon that was believed to be surveillance aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolina coast. Despite U.S. officials claiming it was a spy balloon with surveillance capability, China maintains it was just an off-course weather balloon.
Additionally, China appeared to be bothered by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) making plans to visit Taiwan; however, the communist country was also angered by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visiting the island nation last year, despite multiple warnings.