US discussed ‘overcapacity’ in Chinese solar manufacturing, coal in climate talks

2

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and China discussed Chinese overcapacity in solar and battery manufacturing, steel production and coal power during two days of bilateral meetings on climate change, senior State Department officials said on Friday.

Top U.S. climate change diplomat John Podesta met Chinese counterpart Liu Zhenmin for their first formal bilateral meetings on May 8 and 9 in Washington, where they discussed how to work together ahead of the COP29 climate summit in Azerbaijan, as well as how to cooperate on methane reduction and deforestation, among other issues.

A senior State Department official said during the meetings, the U.S. made clear that China’s flooding of global markets with cheap solar panels and coal undercuts clean energy manufacturing in other countries.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Liu’s U.S. visit came as solar companies filed new trade petitions, asking the Biden administration to levy penalties on solar components from Chinese factories in four southeast Asian countries, citing unfair competition.

The United States is also reportedly weighing setting tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles.

Liu has warned of U.S. trade protectionism in recent public speeches.

“The countercurrents of protectionism and unilateralism have further extended the climate change governance gap,” he said in a speech in China in April, adding that constraints on Chinese solar panels and other technology would increase global costs of the clean energy transition.  

CONTEXT

This was the first formal meeting between the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters since the COP28 summit ended in Dubai in December.

3rd party Ad. Not an offer or recommendation by Investing.com. See disclosure here or
remove ads
.

The meeting was also the first glimpse of the tone of the bilateral relationship on climate between the new envoys. Their predecessors, former Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese climate envoy Xie Zhenhua, had always been friendly, even during times of broader political tensions.

The two had played a key role in brokering the final outcome at COP28, agreeing to bilateral language that paved the way for broad acceptance of an agreement by all countries to transition away from fossil fuels.

Another senior State Department official said that the tone of the talks continued to be cordial and said the two delegations met for dinner at Podesta’s home on Wednesday.

WHAT’S NEXT

The two countries made a strong commitment to complete their new national climate strategies under the Paris Agreement by February 2025 and adopt measures that are aligned with the goal included in the Paris Agreement to hold global warming to within 1.5 C above pre-industrial temperatures.

The two countries said they would host a high-level meeting on sub-national cooperation on May 29-30 in California and would host a joint summit on methane and other non-CO2 gases at COP29.