Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Environment Minister, is set to depart for Beijing this forthcoming Saturday in a landmark visit geared towards combatting climate change and safeguarding biodiversity. This marks the maiden journey of a Canadian minister to China in the last four years.
John Kerry, the U.S. climate envoy, has also previously journeyed to China for talks of similar nature just a month earlier. Other prominent countries that are a part of G7, such as France and Germany, have dispatched climate representatives post the ease of COVID-19 travel constraints.
As conveyed to Reuters, Guilbeault nurtures the hope of engaging in transparent and candid discussions on a broad range of climate change issues. Both Canada and China, he observed, are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, thereby implying a potential arena for collaboration.
A known environmental advocate formerly associated with Greenpeace, Guilbeault is scheduled to participate in the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development (CCICED) annual assembly, an advisory council on climate to the Chinese Government, from 28th to 30th August.
On his agenda, he seeks to prioritize discussions on reducing methane emissions and setting a worldwide renewable energy target. These topics, he believes, are essential to be addressed prior to the United Nations climate change conference set to take place later this year.
With regard to methane emission, Guilbeault expressed optimism about the potential for significant progress, viewing it as a topic open for negotiations with the Chinese authorities.
Furthermore, he also aspires to revisit the highlights from a UN nature summit previously hosted by Canada and endorsed by China, which concluded with the establishment of a worldwide agreement to safeguard ecosystems vital to the global economy.
Canada’s interest in climate collaboration with China persists despite underlying tensions. These include recent accusations towards Beijing for meddling in the past two federal elections and a prolonged stand-off over the detainment of two Canadian men, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, in late 2018. This followed the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ CFO, by Canadian officials as per a U.S. warrant.
The stand-off drew to a close last September as the U.S. Justice Department rescinded its extradition requisition for Meng, who consequently returned to China, resulting in the simultaneous release of Spavor and Kovrig.