MOSCOW — On Monday, US climate envoy John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed confidence that climate talks may serve as a springboard for reducing growing tensions between the two countries.
Kerry spoke with Lavrov during his four-day visit to Moscow, which comes as tensions between the two nations remain high. Kerry is President Joe Biden’s highest-ranking diplomat to visit Russia thus far.
Russia “attaches tremendous significance” to climate change concerns, according to Lavrov, and will continue to collaborate with other governments on these matters.
Kerry’s travel to Moscow, according to Russia’s top diplomat, sends “an essential and good signal for the development of our bilateral ties, for reducing tensions, and for creating meaningful and professional work in areas where we can find a common denominator.”
Kerry stated that he believes there is “space” for Russia and the United States to “collaborate on this (climate change concerns) and perhaps open up some greater chances on other matters, as we do on this.”
Climate change, according to the US source, is as serious a threat as any the two men have previously discussed, such as nuclear weapons.
“You and I spent years bargaining on worse. We spoke about chemical weapons, and we talked about nuclear weapons. “I would argue without hesitation that this is as vital, as compelling, and as pressing an issue as any of the others,” Kerry added.
The United States is second only to China in terms of climate-damaging coal and petroleum fume emissions. However, due to its reliance on coal for electricity generation, Russia, the world’s fourth-largest economy and population, is a disproportionately large contributor to climate change.
Kerry, the Obama administration’s former Secretary of State, is urging other countries to agree to ambitious carbon reduction targets ahead of a United Nations global climate meeting later this year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in Biden’s climate meeting in April via video. However, as the waste from burning fossil fuels warms up the globe, the Russian president’s government has set relatively modest objectives for reducing emissions.
Kerry’s visit coincides with a spat between the two countries over ransomware attacks claimed on Russian criminals, placing Biden under internal pressure to punish Russia for the hacking.
Despite occasionally tense ties on other issues, Biden’s administration has sought climate collaboration with US adversaries and competitors.