China names Liu Zhenmin as its new special envoy for climate change

China has named Mr Liu Zhenmin, a previous vice-foreign minister, as its new extraordinary envoy for climate change, after his predecessor Xie Zhenhua stepped down for health reasons, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a statement on Jan 12. Mr Xie, 74, served as China’s top climate representative at 16 rounds of climate conversations. His longstanding rapport with counterparts in the United States – involving incumbent John Kerry – has played a prominent role in saving global consensus on climate issues.

Mr XIe’s resignation was declared following a video meeting with Mr Kerry, and comes only weeks after he helped secure an agreement to tackle emissions from fossil fuels at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai. Mr Liu, 68, acted as Mr Xie’s special adviser in Dubai, and has long experience in climate diplomacy, taking part in negotiations to draw up the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement. Unlike Mr Xie, Mr Liu is a fluent English speaker. He served as undersecretary-general at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs from 2017 to 2022, with a broad brief that involved climate problems.