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(LEAD) U.S., China agree on closer cooperation on climate change

2014/02/15 16:30

(ATTN: ADDS Kerry's remarks in last 3 paras)

BEIJING, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- The United States and China agreed Saturday to closely cooperate in tackling climate change, said a joint statement issued after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Beijing.

Kerry was in China as part of his three-nation Asia trip which already took him to Japan and South Korea. In Beijing, he met with President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese officials for discussions on wide-ranging issues that also included North Korea.

As was in Tokyo and Seoul, Kerry's main agenda in China reportedly was North Korea's nuclear weapons program but details were unknown. China is trying to revive the long-stalled six-party talks on denuclearizing North Korea.

"In light of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and its worsening impacts, and the related issue of air pollution from burning fossil fuels, China and the United States recognize the urgent need for action to meet these twin challenges," said the joint statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website.

The two sides agreed to closely work together on concrete steps against global warming, including the sharing of information regarding their respective post-2020 plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions, it said.

Among the areas of cooperation agreed are reductions of vehicle emissions, smart grids, and utilization and storage of strong carbon emissions, the statement said.

The U.S. and China, two of the world's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming, reaffirmed "their commitment to contribute significantly to successful 2015 global efforts to meet this challenge," it said.

The U.S. and China launched the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group last year.

Regarding his discussions with Chinese leaders about climate change, Kerry told reporters, "Together, the United States and China account for some 40 percent of the carbon pollution that is released into the atmosphere."

   "We need to see if working together we could identify any further steps that we may be able to take, specifically with respect to arrival at meaningful targets with respect to the 2015 climate change conference that will take place in Paris in December of next year," he said.