By David Stanway

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The United States and China have reached “understandings and agreements” on climate issues that will help ensure progress is made at the COP28 talks starting late this month in Dubai, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said on Friday.

Kerry met with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua at Sunnylands, California, this week for four days of talks he described as tough and serious.

“We had a few moments where, as in any negotiation, you think it’s all despair,” Kerry said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore. “We did come up with some very solid understandings and agreements which will help the COP and will also put us both in a place where we can help the world by focusing on more renewables and other kinds of things,” he said.

Common ground between the world’s two top economies and biggest greenhouse gas emitters is considered a crucial part of any consensus at COP28, which is expected to focus on issues like climate finance and more ambitious energy transition goals.

Kerry said details of the agreements between the two would be released soon.

One important agreement reached on climate loss and damage would allow any country to contribute to a fund to support the regions most vulnerable to climate impacts, Kerry said.

Much of the focus on China at COP28 will be on its ongoing programme to build more coal-fired power plants, and Beijing’s reluctance to commit to a concrete target to cut fossil fuel use as it tries to guarantee energy security and economic growth.

China envoy Xie told diplomats in September that phasing out fossil fuels was “unrealistic” while key technologies like energy storage remained immature.

Kerry, when asked if he expected any compromise on coal from China, said: “You wait and see.”

China now has 360 gigawatts of coal-fired power capacity in its project construction pipeline, he said, but “they’re trying very hard to move away.”

Right now, “it is irresponsible to be funding a coal-fired power plant anywhere in the world,” he said.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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