After three days in Beijing, US climate envoy John Kerry concluded his trip Wednesday optimistic about the restart of climate talks with China. The meetings took place amidst the world’s two hottest weeks on record, an ominous backdrop for the two largest global emitters to meet over climate for the first time in nearly a year. Kerry characterized his trip as needing to, “unstick what had been stuck,” stating, “indeed, we did succeed.” Though no formal agreements were issued, the decision to ramp up talks ahead of COP28 with a focus on renewables, coal, and methane emissions reflects a key step forward for international climate action. However, the willingness to find common ground remains complex.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping made clear — via state media reports — that the country’s pathway to carbon neutrality “must be determined by ourselves, and free from outside interference.” Regardless, Li Shuo, senior adviser to Greenpeace East Asia, told reporters Kerry’s visit represents a critical development in the “complex rescue operation for the US-China climate dialogue.” Kerry is the third high-level US official to visit China in recent weeks, following Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as the Biden administration seeks to broaden dialogues amongst tensions regarding trade, human rights, and Taiwan. (Wall Street Journal $, Bloomberg $, E&E $, The Guardian, E&E News, AP, Politico, Axios, Reuters, The Hill)