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US commerce, energy secretaries highlight cooperation with China on climate change
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US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, both Chinese Americans, began their China tour by stressing the importance of cooperation between the two nations in slowing global warming.

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke gestures during an interview yesterday. [Zhang Wei/China Daily]
US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke gestures during an interview yesterday. [Zhang Wei/China Daily]

"The Earth is warming in most places because of greenhouse gases," Chu told about 500 students in the main hall of the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing.

In his 90-minute speech, Chu elaborated on the causes and possible dangers of climate change, urging the world to shun "a business-as-usual path."

"Science has shown that we are altering the destiny of our planet. The consequences of what we are doing today will not be fully realized for at least 100 years," Chu said.

He suggested China and the United States, the top two greenhouse gas emitters, should boost cooperation in clean energy sectors such as carbon dioxide capture and transformation.

"We should continue this tradition of cooperation," which could set examples for the developed and developing countries, Chu said, noting that this year marked the 30th anniversary of the Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between China and the United States.

"His speech was much longer than we had expected, but also very specific, statistic-based and persuasive," said Han Fugui, a post-graduate majoring in building environment.

In a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in China at a downtown hotel in Beijing, Locke also suggested China and the United States step up cooperation on clean energy.

"We are here to advance what can be one of the most beneficial areas of cooperation in the history of U.S-China relations: the development, production and deployment of clean energy and energy efficiency technologies," Locke told a gathering of US business people.

Calling clean energy "the greatest economic opportunity" of the 21st Century, Locke said, "As two of the world's most productive and innovative economies, the United States and China are uniquely positioned to create the solar, wind, biofuel and other renewable technologies that the world wants and needs."

Locke said the widespread deployment of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies was also "the only way our economies can continue to grow" while preventing the catastrophic effects of climate change.

"As the two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, the United States and China have a special responsibility to take action," Locke said.

He acknowledged that "countries like the United States have spent 150 years using coal, oil and other dirty fuels to grow their economies," but nature did not discriminate between carbon from the United States or China, Europe or India.

"Meeting the challenge will require more than just concerted governmental action," Locke said.

Locke stressed that US companies had considerable advanced technologies that could assist China in its clean energy transition.

"We need to empower US and Chinese entrepreneurs and innovators to create and collaborate free from artificial trade barriers."

Locke hailed China's efforts to deal with energy challenges. "I know almost 40 percent of China's domestic economic stimulus is going towards green projects."

"China has already adopted the most aggressive energy efficiency program in the entire world and they are on track to exceed many of the their renewable energy adoption goals," he said.

Chu and Locke arrived in Beijing Tuesday and are expected to meet Chinese leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao, during their three-day visit to China, the home of their parents and grandparents.

Earlier, they had a flurry of meetings with leading officials from the National Development and Reform Commission and the Science and Technology Ministry. They will meet leading officials from the Commerce Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Industry and Information Technology Ministry.

On Wednesday, a China-US joint research center on clean energy was launched after a meeting of Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong, Chu and Locke.

"As major energy producers and consumers, China and the United States are complementary in energy technology," Chinese Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang said at the press conference.

"With a focus on coal and clean buildings and vehicles, the center will provide the platform and support to Chinese and US bodies involved in bilateral energy technology collaboration," Wang said.

Both countries will commit initial financing of US$15 million and set up headquarters in both countries, Wang said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2009)

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