Home / Environment / Opinions Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Bridging an energy gap
Adjust font size:

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are beginning their China trip tomorrow to explore clean energy cooperation.

Environmental issues top the agenda of every US official visiting China, and the visit by two Chinese-Americans will be no exception.

China and the United States produce an estimated 40 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted worldwide. While the two countries have not always agreed on how to best tackle climate change, a renewed focus on environmental issues may provide the basis for cooperation in the spirit of reducing ecological damage.

In their formal positions, the two sides remain far apart. China wants developed nations to make a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels, far beyond the goal set by the administration of US President Barack Obama, which plans to reduce the emissions by 2020 to the level of 1990.

The US wants China to set voluntary, but verifiable, goals to reduce its energy use and, in the longer term, to join richer nations in cutting overall emissions.

China's reality offers a plethora of opportunities for cooperation.

China is a major player in negotiations regarding global climate change. It is also a country of stark contrasts - its greenhouse gas emissions are among the largest in the world. Still, on a per-capita basis its emissions remain far below those in the US or Europe as it continues to struggle against poverty.

China is also among the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change. At the same time, China is now one of the world's strongest economies and increasingly a major source of climate solutions, such as the mass production of solar and wind technologies.

President Hu Jintao recently declared that China will promote a "conservation culture", which is sometimes translated into English as an "ecological civilization". His statement reflects one of the biggest questions of the 21st century: Can China forge a new model of development, bypassing polluting technologies and wasteful practices historically dominant in the West to help lead the world toward sustainability?

Scholars take this as a challenge and hope for a renewed partnership between China and the US.

China is ahead of schedule to achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy intensity from 2005 to 2010. It is doubling the energy it taps from the wind year over year and has just made a massive commitment to expand solar power.

"When members of the US Congress or the media claim that China is doing nothing to solve this problem, they are simply wrong - although China still must do much more," said John Podesta, president of Center for American Progress.

There are numerous areas in which China-US cooperation on clean energy can be in both our interests. We have many complementary capabilities.

Such cooperation must be based on the trust that grows out of a realistic understanding of each other's actions, problems, worries, capabilities and goals. That trust is now lacking.

Despite the differences in principles that separate the industrialized world from developing countries over responsibilities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the most important developed and the largest developing country can find significant ways to work together.

(China Daily July 13, 2009)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read Bookmark and Share
Pet Name

China Archives
Related >>
- Clean energy to be focus of Sino-US talks
- US cabinet chiefs in China next week on energy trip
- Climate change declaration at G8 important step forward
- US agrees to help developing nations fight climate change
- China offers proposal on tackling climate change
NGO Events Calendar Tips
- The Eco Design Fair 2009
- Environmental English Training (EET) class
- Hand in hand to protect endangered animals and plants
- Changchun, Mini-marathon Aimed at Protecting Siberian Tiger
- Water Walk by Nature University
World Fights A/H1N1 flu
The pandemic fear grips the world as the virus spreads from Mexico to the US, Europe and as far as China.
Panda Facts
A record 28 panda cubs born via artificial insemination have survived in 2006.
South China Karst
Rich and unique karst landforms located in south China display exceptional natural beauty.
Saving the Tibetan Antelopes
The rare animals survive in the harsh natural environment of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Laws & Regulations
- Forestry Law of the People's Republic of China
- Meteorology Law of the People's Republic of China
- Fire Control Law of the People's Republic of China
- Law on Protecting Against and Mitigating Earthquake Disasters
- Law of the People's Republic of China on Conserving Energy
State Environmental Protection Administration
Ministry of Water Resources
Ministry of Land and Resources
China Environmental Industry Network
Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base