WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and China, the world’s largest carbon emitters, have an opportunity to agree on ambitious targets to reduce climate-warming gas emissions and set the stage for a global deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.
Speaking hours before leaving on a trip that will include Beijing, Kerry said climate change, Iran, North Korea and counter terrorism were areas on which the two major powers could cooperate and agree.
China and the United States appear increasingly willing to reach a deal, even a limited one, in Paris in late 2015 when developed and developing nations are supposed to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
“Solutions are within reach but they will require ambitious, decisive and immediate action,” Kerry told an audience at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.
“We hope that the partnership between China and the United States can help set an example for global leadership and for the seriousness of purpose on those targets and the negotiations overall,” Kerry added, noting that China and the United States together account for close to 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Kerry will join U.S. President Barack Obama for a leaders’ summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing later this month.
Describing the U.S-China relationship as “the most consequential in the world today,” Kerry reiterated the Obama administration’s declared “rebalance” to Asia that aims to leverage economic, security and trade ties to take advantage of the region’s rapid rise.
Kerry said Washington was committed to advancing a “principled and productive relationship” with China.
“As the two of the world’s major powers and largest economies we have a profound opportunity to set a constructive course on any number of issues,” said Kerry.
“Our relationship has to be carefully managed and guided, not by news hooks and grand gestures, but by a long-term strategic vision, by hard work, by good diplomacy and by good relationships,” he added.
He said the relationship was built on two pillars: constructively managing differences and coordinating efforts in areas where there is agreement.
The United States has expressed concern over China’s human rights record and Beijing’s assertive actions in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
While stressing that it does not take a position on specific maritime claims, Washington has increased military cooperation with allies and partners in the South China Sea, including the Philippines and Vietnam.
Kerry again stressed the importance for countries to agree on a code of conduct that will help reduce the potential for conflict in the South China Sea.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Steve Orlofsky