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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

China, U.S. relationship key in climate agreement

China, U.S. relationship key in climate agreement

Even as smog levels in Beijing often turn the sky a smoky gray, one thing was clear at the global climate change talks in Paris: China, once a laggard, emerged as a key player in the battle to help avert the worst effects of global warming.

The shift, by the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, helped pave the way for the commitment by nearly 200 nations to reduce emissions. “You had a developing country and somebody who had been leading the efforts against us,” said Secretary of State John F. Kerry, “that opened the door.”

After the December 2009 Copenhagen climate talks descended into chaos, some of the sharpest finger-pointing had...