U.S. officials are raising concerns about the growing energy demands of China and India, but say the United States is actively working to engage both countries in cooperation over energy interests. A congressional committee has been holding hearings on the subject.
Robust economic growth in China and India has led to steep increases in energy use in both countries, an issue that was the focus of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday.
The energy sectors in both countries are still dominated by coal, but both countries have also become growing consumers of natural gas and oil on the world market.
International Energy Agency figures project that overall demand for energy in China and India will approximately double by 2030. During the same time, U.S. demand is expected to grow by only as much as 50 percent.
Assistant Secretary of State Anthony Wayne said Washington is concerned about efforts by Beijing and New Delhi to reach out to countries U.S. companies have largely stayed away from, such as Burma, Iran, Sudan and Venezuela.
"In the case of Sudan, we also engaged in serious dialogue with the Chinese, both in the bilateral sense but also in their role on the (U.N.) Security Council, as we were all working together to encourage a North-South Peace agreement, which is now going forward, as we continue to work seriously to restore peace and security to the Darfur region. In all of these cases, we have worked very hard to explain to the Chinese and to others, why we believe it is troubling, it undermines the international community's efforts."
But Mr. Wayne emphasized room for cooperation and listed ways the United States is working together with the two Asian giants, especially in regional organizations like the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, or APEC.
The United States, China and India all rely largely on imports of oil to meet energy demands. Undersecretary of Energy David Garman said this binds the three countries in what he referred to as "an oil co-dependency."
"We're all more or less in the same boat, where we must invest in new supply, new technology, alternatives to oil over the long term. And I don't think there's any other way to proceed," he said.
Undersecretary Garman pointed to the International Partnership for Hydrogen Economy, which was established in 2003, as one concrete example of how the countries can work together. "China and India are both charter members of this multilateral effort, which is designed to get us to affordable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that need no petroleum and emit no pollutants, by 2020, or so. They've signed up to that vision, and we are working fervently with them on these technologies and methods of producing a common hydrogen fuel that all the nations of the world could produce from a variety of domestic, available, primary energy resources," he said.
Undersecretary Garman said if each nation could produce its own fuel, that could ultimately make concerns over conflict in the world's energy markets moot.