News and Video: U.S. and China to Focus on Environmental Cooperation

According to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, China exceeds the U.S. as the world’s largest energy user and leading emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. One of Hillary Clinton’s missions during her visit in Asia is to reach an agreement with China to fight together against the environmental crisis, as the New York Times reported.

An article in USA Today also reports that climate change is on the table for Clinton in China:

“The new team in Washington, D.C., is really starting to give the international community some hope in dealing with climate change challenges,” says Wu Changhua, the China director for The Climate Group, an independent advisory group. “It’s crucial for the U.S. to start to demonstrate the leadership that’s been missing for the past eight years.” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu co-produced a study released this month that urges Washington and Beijing to collaborate on climate change. “If these two countries cannot find ways to bridge the long-standing divide on this issue, there will literally be no solution,” the report said.

The Brookings Institution carries a summary of a past event “U.S.-China Climate Change Cooperation: Overcoming Obstacles” and a transcript of chair of the Brookings board John Thornton’s speech during the event, via brookings.edu:

China and the United States have many shared interests and extensive area for cooperation on energy and climate change. China is the biggest developing country in the world. The United States is the biggest developed country with advanced technologies and the rich experience in energy efficiency and the clean energy. (Inaudible) cooperation between all two countries, energy and environmental issues will enable China to respond to energy and the climate change issues more effectively while at the same time offering enormous business opportunities and a considerable return to American investors. There has been effective cooperation between China and the United States under the mechanisms of the strategic, economic dialog, the (inaudible) Science and Technology Commission, and other climate change-related dialogs, and within the frameworks of the China-U.S. energy efficiency and the renewable energy protocol and the fossil energy protocol…

China Dialogue posted an open letter from Greenpeace to urge the two countries to “cooperate on reviving the global economy without sacrificing human health or the environment.”

Most importantly, it is the year in which the international community, meeting in Copenhagen in December, must agree on urgent and dramatic action to avert the looming climate disaster and define the path toward a more sustainable, more survivable future. Strong leadership from the US and China, acting together, is essential to reaching an agreement in Copenhagen. We are writing to respectfully urge you to demonstrate that leadership. Already, we have seen positive signs. In recent weeks, the US has developed an economic stimulus package that includes substantial investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, demonstrating that economic recovery and environmental sustainability are mutually supportive goals. At the same time, China has begun work on a new energy law that places strong emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, demonstrating that greener development is not only possible but also desirable.

In the Chinese media, Xinhua News Agency reports on the issue with confidence in the cooperation between the two countries:

Zhang Haibin noted that the governments of the two countries can establish a sustainable dialogue mechanism on energy and climate change. The United States should provide related Official Development Assistance as well as preferential treatment on loans, financing and technology transfer to China.

“At the early stage, it is important to launch some large pilot projects. The experience of successful cases can be drawn upon and introduced gradually. Both determination and patience are essential for bilateral cooperation,” he stressed.

The video clip below is a discussion about China’s growing impact on the global environment during Aspen Idea Festival 2007, between James Fallows, Atlantic Monthly National Correspondent and Orville Shell, China expert and former Dean of Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, via Youtube:

Another video carried by Youtube with the title “China’s Environmental Crisis Is Spreading” tells that about 30 percent of China’s land mass is covered by desert, and the desert is growing. See more video introduction here.

- Please also see James Fallows’ comment on this issue yesterday posting on theatlantic.com, along with an introductory video from Asia Society “A Roadmap for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change.”