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Aug. 7, 2022, 4:48 p.m. EDT

China halts U.S. climate-change talks after Pelosi’s Taiwan visit — 5 things to know

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By Rachel Koning Beals

China says it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the U.S. on climate change, military relations and other topics in a retaliatory strike after a controversial visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The measures announced were the latest in a promised set of steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island that mainland China claims as its own territory. The trip defied the U.S.’s public backing of a “One China” policy, Beijing said. China has said Taiwan could be annexed by force if necessary and it opposes the self-ruling leadership engaging with foreign governments.

As of Sunday, China had so far conducted missiles strikes on targets in the seas around Taiwan , and sent warships across the Taiwan Straits median line.

Beijing also imposed sanctions on the California congresswoman, who says she made the trip to enforce a U.S. obligation to stand with democracies against autocratic countries .

The tensions pose significant risk not only for the two essentially “frenemy” nations, but also to international trade and safety. Taiwan is a key exporter of chips /zigman2/quotes/204438110/composite XSD +3.86% needed for technology and climate-change efforts, such as EVs. Plus, the tensions risk a potentially large setback to global talks toward curbing climate change, an effort that will require all major economies to be on board.

Read: China conducts ‘precision missile strikes’ in Taiwan Strait after Pelosi visit

Here are five factors to know when it comes to climate change and these two economic powerhouses.

Top polluters

If simply measuring total emissions, China, the No. 2 economy, is in the top-polluting spot. China generates around 30% of all global emissions, while the U.S. is responsible for almost 14%. When taking account of China’s large population, a per-capita measure of emissions moves China well down the list, below the U.S. and major Middle Eastern economies.

Greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane, are generated primarily when we burn oil , gas /zigman2/quotes/210189548/delayed NG00 -3.30% and coal to heat our homes, drive our cars and create steady, necessary power for hospitals and more. Alternative energy sources /zigman2/quotes/205740995/composite ICLN +3.09% like wind, solar and hydrogen, and more energy efficiency is necessary to cut back emissions. A pivotal 2015 voluntary agreement across many nations, the Paris Climate accord, set a goal of holding warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by adopting emissions-reduction actions.

Pledges made

China, long dependent on coal to power its electric grid, in late 2020  announced a surprise climate-change pledge . Chinese officials said then that the nation was targeting net-zero emissions by 2060 and would aim to hit peak emissions before 2030.

It was an announcement delivered right as the Trump-led U.S. was pulling out of the voluntary Paris pact — the only major nation to abandon its membership. The Trump administration’s move prompted other world leaders to suggest China, and not the U.S., would lead a “green” revolution, especially as it already has a dominant position in alternative energy manufacturing and the technology behind solar, battery storage and other key areas.

Read: ‘Hold the champagne’ on China’s updated climate-change target — guide markers still don’t guarantee net zero emissions by 2060

President Biden’s administration has set a target of no later than 2050 for net-zero emissions in America, and as a campaign pledge, he said the country can halve its emissions as soon as 2030.

Biden’s climate intentions have been held in check by a tightly divided Congress and a conservative-majority Supreme Court. As of Friday, Democrats looked near victory, however, on a compromise spending bill that would include nearly $370 billion toward climate change . The legislation follows  a Supreme Court ruling  earlier this year that reduced the authority of the EPA in curbing greenhouse gas emissions across the power sector, limiting regulatory actions to individual facilities, and seen as a major blow to Biden’s climate agenda.

Read:  The real math behind ‘net zero’ emissions as 100s of countries and companies make their pledge

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