US climate envoy John Kerry landed in Tokyo on Tuesday for discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and other authorities about reducing support for fossil fuels, particularly coal, before travelling to Tianjin.
The purpose of the talks in the two Asian economic powerhouses would be “to engage with international peers on efforts to address the climate problem,” according to a statement issued by the US State Department on Monday, Washington time.
The former secretary of state has led U.S. efforts to convince the global community of the threat of climate change and urge the acceleration of efforts to curb carbon emissions. The U.S. push comes in advance of the U.N. COP26 climate conference, which will be held in Scotland later this year.
In Japan, discussions are likely to focus on the country’s continued support for coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Japan is the only G7 country building coal-fired power stations as it struggles with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which led to the shutdown of most of the country’s reactors.
Kerry’s visit to Japan and China comes after the U.S. Treasury said earlier this month the United States would oppose most involvement of multilateral development banks like the World Bank in fossil fuel projects.
Discussions in Tokyo are also likely to focus on plans by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to organise and develop a scheme to acquire coal-fired power plants and shut them down early.
The effort, first reported by Reuters, includes British insurer Prudential PLC (PRU.L), lenders Citigroup Inc (C.N) and HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.L) and BlackRock Real Assets, with ambitions for an initial purchase in 2022.
Japan is the largest shareholder of the ADB and support from Tokyo will be crucial to any success for the plans.
China, the United States and Japan are the world’s biggest, second- and fifth-biggest carbon emitters.
Kerry will aim to expand on pledges he helped obtain during his April visit to China, when the two countries vowed to work together urgently to combat climate change.
China has committed to “increase ambition” in combating climate change, and new policies are expected to be announced by the end of the year.
Activists are keeping an eye out for any fresh coal pledges, with many hopeful that Beijing will stop subsidising abroad coal-fired power facilities.
In the midst of political tensions between the two countries, the US has attempted to isolate climate problems, and Kerry has no authority to discuss any other matters with China.