1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Yellen urges US and China to cooperate on climate financing

July 8, 2023

As the two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stressed the urgency for the US and China to work together to tackle climate change.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang (R) shakes hands with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen
Yellen has called for close communication on global economic and financial affairs Image: MARK SCHIEFELBEIN/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for greater cooperation on climate financing between the United States and China. Yellen, who was on a four-day visit to Beijing, called on both nations to work together in combating the "existential threat" posed by climate change.

"Continued US-China cooperation on climate finance is critical," Yellen said in a prepared text at a climate roundtable in Beijing.

"As the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses and the largest investors in renewable energy, we have both a joint responsibility — and ability — to lead the way."

Support for existing climate funds 

The US treasury chief said that their partnership had led to significant breakthroughs such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. She urged China to support existing multilateral climate institutions like the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Climate Investment Funds, which could enhance global climate finance efforts. 

Yellen invited China to join the US in contributing to the fund replenishment of the GCF in September, with US President Joe Biden committing an additional $1 billion (€910 million).

"Both our economies seek to support partners in emerging markets and developing countries as they strive to meet their climate goals," she added.

China, classified as a developing country by the United Nations, has long said it was the responsibility of developed nations to help poor countries pay to address climate change. However, Beijing says it could contribute to loss and damage due to climate change voluntarily.

Paris summit aims to help emerging economies

Yellen said in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang that it was crucial for Washington and Beijing to closely communicate on global economic and financial affairs. She called for joint efforts to address international challenges, including debt distress. 

"Amid a complicated global economic outlook, there is a pressing need for the two largest economies to closely communicate and exchange views on our responses to various challenges," she said. Doing so could "help both sides more fully understand the global economic outlook and make better decisions to strengthen our economies," she said.

Chinese vice premier regrets 'unexpected incidents'

Yellen appealed to China not to allow disagreements to "lead to misunderstandings, particularly those stemming from a lack of communication, which can unnecessarily worsen our bilateral economic and financial relationship."

China's vice premier said that he regretted "unexpected incidents" that damaged ties with the US during his meeting with Yellen.

"Unfortunately, due to some unexpected incidents such as that involving the airship, there were some problems in the implementation of the consensus reached by the two heads of state" at a summit last year, He Lifeng said, referring to an alleged Chinese spy balloon shot down by the United States earlier this year.

Talks on climate could resume soon

China briefly suspended talks on the climate last year after Nancy Pelosi, at the time speaker of the House of Representatives, visited Taiwan. Beijing considers the island to be part of its own territory and has tried to isolate the self-governing region on the international stage. 

With US envoy John Kerry set to travel to China to discuss working together on climate change according to a US official, talks could resume soon. 

Cooperation between the US and China was considered vital to international efforts to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

los/ab (AFP, AP)