China and the United States must find opportunities to work together to address the global climate crisis, John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, said ahead of the United Nations climate summit next week. China suspended bilateral talks on climate issues in August, one of several measures taken in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. But both nations are expected to attend the UN summit. “China and the United States – the two biggest economies in the world, the two biggest [greenhouse gas] emitters in the world, 40 per cent of all emissions – need to be moving aggressively in the same direction,” Kerry said at an event hosted by London-based think tank Chatham House on Thursday. “We have argued adamantly that it’s not a bilateral relation, it’s a multilateral global threat,” he said. “I still genuinely hope that we will come together, and China and the United States will find the opportunity to do some work together.” At the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which begins on November 6, policymakers and world leaders will decide the next steps in response to the climate crisis, and how to maintain the global warming level to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The conference is considered a key opportunity for collective global action. Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua had been expected to hold talks, but Kerry indicated it was unclear that they would. “I am genuinely hopeful that Xie and I will be able to get together when we get to Sharm el-Sheikh … (but) we obviously have to find other ways of dealing with China if we don’t reach a meeting,” said Kerry. Recent years have seen an increasing incidence of unpredicted extreme weather events including heatwaves and droughts, which have worsened due to a global energy crisis resulting from Russia’s war on Ukraine. China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has experienced several climate-related disasters. A devastating flood in central Henan province in July 2021 – the result of a heavy rainfall – affected nearly 15 million people and caused direct economic losses of more than ¥133.7 billion (US$18.5 billion), and a historic drought in southwestern Sichuan province this August led to a prolonged power shortage in the hydropower hub. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in 2020 that China would aim to peak nationwide carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The US aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, US President Joe Biden said last year. Before the suspension of talks, US-China cooperation on climate change had just started to take shape. The countries issued a joint declaration on enhancing climate action over the next decade at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021, following Kerry’s visit to China the previous April. The declaration called for the two nations to cooperate on reducing emissions, eliminating deforestation, improving technology and information exchanges and accelerating the use of renewable energy. It is unclear whether the suspension only applies to higher-level talks between government representatives or affects all communication between the two countries on climate issues. Cooperating on the reduction of methane emissions could be the most immediate casualty, Elizabeth Zelljadt, an analyst at data provider Refinitiv, said. The two countries agreed during the COP26 meetings to develop a top-level methane action plan for this year, and the US agreed to help China accelerate its transition out of coal, Kerry said.