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Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

Taiwan crisis: China suspends climate dialogue with US

The decision after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei

(Sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The climate is the excellent victim of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. China has announced that it will suspend – even if “temporarily” – any meeting and contact with the United States to discuss the climate crisis. A heavy blow to climate diplomacy: the harmony between Washington and Beijing, the two largest polluters in the world as well as the two largest economies, is crucial at this stage to make progress ahead of the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh. The Taiwan crisis can derail the efforts made in recent months or greatly limit the summit’s ambition.

Taiwan crisis, the Chinese reaction

The decision is part of a series of measures announced by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in response to the Speaker of the House’s visit to Taiwan. Visit that Beijing perceives as an interference in its internal affairs since it considers the island an integral part of the nation and put the One China policy as a precondition for talking and doing business with any interlocutor. Among other measures, China is interrupting the high-level military dialogue, the one on maritime security and cooperation on international crime and the fight against drug trafficking.

Why is US-China climate cooperation important?

The Chinese reaction to the climate dialogue will make less of a stir than the military exercises launched around Taiwan in conjunction with the visit of Pelosi, with the presence of the two aircraft carriers of Beijing, Ballistic missiles and raids in Taipei airspace by fighters of the People’s Republic. But it can have serious effects on the planet’s ability to respond to the climate crisis.

Some of the most important dossiers to keep the objective of containing global warming within 1.5°C at hand, in fact, have been triggered or depend to a large extent on cooperation on the Washington-Beijing axis. One of them: the reduction of methane emissions, which is historically responsible for almost half of the cumulative global warming (about 0.5 ºC) and has a critical role in achieving the emissions targets for 2030.

Another dossier that can run aground is that of losses and damages (Loss & damage), that is, the money that the richest countries should give to the most vulnerable ones for measures of adaptation and mitigation of the climate crisis. At the COP26 almost nothing was done because of the opposition of the advanced economies, in these months it was decided whether in Sharm el-Sheikh the issue will be addressed in substance or just as a facade. Here, too, China and the US are important to weave an agreement between the two sides.

But it is the performance of the entire COP27 that is at stake with the Taiwan crisis and the stop to the climate dialogue between the two world heavyweights. Their agreement on certain dossiers has always been an accelerator of negotiations. The 2015 Paris Agreement also owes a preliminary agreement between the US and China.

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