The United States and China, the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, agreed to cooperate with other countries to tackle climate change, just days before President Joe Biden called a virtual summit world leaders to discuss the issue.

The deal was struck by US special climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua during two days of talks in Shanghai last week, the State Department said in a statement on Saturday.

“The United States and China are committed to cooperate with each other and with other countries to address the climate crisis, which must be treated with the seriousness and urgency it demands,” the joint statement said. .

China and the United States are the world’s biggest carbon polluters, removing nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that warm the planet’s atmosphere.

Their cooperation is key to the success of global climate change efforts, but China’s frayed human rights, trade and land claims ties to Taiwan and the South China Sea have threatened to undermine these efforts.

Mr. Kerry’s trip to Shanghai marked a high-profile trip to China by a U.S. official since Mr. Biden took office in January. From Shaghai, the former secretary of state flew to South Korea for talks.

Biden invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit. The United States and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national carbon emission reduction targets before or at the meeting, while pledging financial support for less wealthy countries’ climate efforts.

It is not known to what extent Mr. Kerry’s visit to China would promote US-China cooperation on climate issues.

While Kerry was still in Shanghai, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng on Friday signaled that China is unlikely to make any new commitments at next week’s summit.

“For a large country of 1.4 billion people, these goals are not easy to achieve,” Le said in an interview with The Associated Press In Beijing. “Some countries are asking China to meet the targets earlier. I’m afraid it’s not very realistic. ”

As to whether Xi will join the summit, Le said that “the Chinese side is actively studying the matter.”

In a video meeting with German and French leaders on Friday, Xi also said climate change “should not become a geopolitical chip, a target to attack other countries, or an excuse for trade barriers,” although he called for closer cooperation on the matter. , according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Mr Biden, who has said tackling global warming is one of his highest priorities, had the United States adhere to the Paris climate agreement in the early hours of his presidency, overturning the US withdrawal ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump.

The main emitters of greenhouse gases are gearing up for the next UN climate summit to be held in Glasgow, UK, in November. The summit aims to revive global efforts to keep rising global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris agreement.

According to the US-China statement, the two countries would strengthen “their respective actions and cooperation in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.” He said the two countries “are strongly committed to working together and with other Parties to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement”.