US, China Climate Envoys to 'Meet Later' at UN Summit

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) -- U.S. climate envoy John Kerry indicated on Tuesday he'll hold talks with his Chinese counterpart at annual United Nations climate talks underway in Egypt, in the latest sign of improving relations between the world's top two polluters after a meeting between their leaders Monday.

When asked if he would be meeting with China's top climate official Xie Zhenhua on Tuesday, Kerry told The Associated Press that "I will meet with him sometime later," without being more specific. "We're able to talk, we'll see what happens," he said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed a day earlier to resume climate change talks with the United States. Xi had put those contacts on hold three months earlier in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.

Government ministers, who've been arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh since Monday, delivered impassioned speeches to delegates as they push for the meeting to clinch a substantial deal by Friday.

The prime minister of Samoa appealed Tuesday to countries to respond as strongly to the threat of global warming as they did to the coronavirus pandemic.

FiamÄ? Naomi MataÊ»afa said her country and other Pacific states are "at the mercy of climate change and our survival hangs in the rush of the climate hourglass." She praised those major emitters who have made commitments to sharply cut their greenhouse gas emissions, but said those are still too few.

"Why is it not possible to apply the same level of urgency of action witnessed for the COVID-19 pandemic to the meeting of the 1.5 degree Celsius promise?," she asked.

She also called for more financial support to vulnerable countries, including the creation of a dedicated fund for "loss and damage" suffered as a result of climate change. She said failure to keep past funding promises had caused distrust.

"We cannot afford the further erosion of trust between the developed and developing countries," she said.

The European Union is raising its target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, albeit slightly, the 27-nation bloc's top climate official told delegates.

Frans Timmermans said the EU will increase its target for reducing emissions by 2030 to 57%, from 55% previously, compared with 1990 levels. He said the increase showed the EU was not "backtracking" on its commitments because of the energy crisis sparked by Russia's war in Ukraine.

"Europe is staying the course," he said. "Actually, we're even accelerating."

Addressing poor nations who have called for more financial support to cope with global warming, Timmermans said the EU wants to work with multilateral banks "to get the shift of the trillions going."

The bloc was also willing to address demands for "loss and damage" money "including new funding arrangements," he said, but indicated that this would take time.

"We need to trust each other, launch a well-designed process so that we can end with the best possible result, with the highest benefits and the most value to those that need it most."

Environmental groups compared the EU's increased target to breadcrumbs, saying the bloc's fair share should be cuts of at least 65% by 2030.

"This small increase announced today at COP27 doesn't do justice to the calls from the most vulnerable countries at the frontlines. If the EU, with a heavy history of emitting greenhouse gases, doesn't lead on mitigating climate change, who will?" said Chiara Martinelli of Climate Action Network Europe.

Also Tuesday, Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate slammed world leaders who persist in backing new fossil fuel projects despite science warnings that this will push temperatures across the planet to dangerous highs.

Nakate's comments came as negotiators at the conference haggle over numerous thorny issues including increasing efforts to cut greenhouse gases and providing more financial help to poor nations.