Climate to be high on agenda at Apec 2023 meet in San Francisco

The 2023 Apec summit will be held in San Francisco, symbol of the United States’ technological dominance. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK – Asia-Pacific leaders will gather in November 2023 in San Francisco with climate high on the agenda, US Vice-President Kamala Harris announced on Saturday, offering an opportunity for a rare US visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ms Harris, who is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, announced the week beginning Nov 12, 2023 for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, as the 2022 meeting wrapped up in Bangkok.

“There is no better place to host Apec 2023 than California, a state known for economic innovation,” she said.

She said President Joe Biden’s administration would focus the summit on sustainability and moving economies away from carbon as part of the fight against climate change.

“We will promote economic growth and prosperity for the American people, and people throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” she said, using another term for the Asia-Pacific.

Ms Harris asked leaders at the Bangkok talks to prepare new targets for reducing emissions from the power sector in time for the 2023 summit, a US official said.

She also proposed an Apec-wide goal on slashing methane, one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, which is released from oil and gas production and agriculture.

The official said Ms Harris asked for specific commitments, as most Apec nations already have longer-range goals on zeroing out emissions.

Apec, born in the 1980s, is focused on trade rather than politics, and each year offers an occasion for leaders of its 21 members to meet on the sidelines.

The 2022 Apec forum took place immediately after a summit in Bali of Group of 20 economies, where Mr Biden held his first face-to-face meeting with Mr Xi in their first encounter as heads of state.

US Vice-President Kamala Harris was in Thailand to represent US President Joe Biden at the Apec leaders’ meeting. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Ms Harris also met Mr Xi briefly, as part of a renewed effort by the world’s two largest economies to prevent tensions from spiralling out of control.

Mr Xi last visited the US in 2017, meeting then President Donald Trump at his Florida estate. But relations between the US and China later sharply deteriorated over trade, Taiwan, human rights and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russia is also an Apec member but, unlike with Mr Xi, the US has made clear that it will not deal as normal with President Vladimir Putin after he ignored warnings and invaded Ukraine in February.

The US earlier announced that Apec foreign ministers will meet in 2023 in Seattle, and that trade officials would gather in Detroit.

The US last hosted Apec in 2011, when then President Barack Obama invited leaders to his birth state of Hawaii. AFP

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