Clean energy production and climate issues with China have been a priority for the United States since the start of the Obama administration. During her first trip to China, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a great opportunity existed for collaboration between China and the United States on clean energy. Significant progress has been made over the past year and a half.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke travels to China and Indonesia later this week for a clean energy trade mission with representatives of 46 U.S. business executives. They will seek to boost export opportunities related to clean energy, energy transmission, energy efficiency and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution.
Before the trip, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg spoke at the Brookings Institute in Washington about U.S.-China cooperation, including clean energy. "We are the two-largest energy consumers, the two-largest greenhouse gas emitters. And there is simply no imaginable solution to the problems of either long-term energy security or dealing with the problems of greenhouse gases and climate without significant engagement and contribution by both the United States and China," he said.
Steinberg says China has shown a shift in policy, evident last year at the U.N. Climate change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark "From its historical position of really sort of suggesting that either it was not a problem or if it was not a problem, it was somebody else's problem to deal with, and therefore not a responsibility for China, or somehow something that could impede China's economic development. We now are beginning to see a recognition that China recognizes in its own self-interest the need to deal with the problem of greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
Steinberg says China's signing of the final climate agreement in Copenhagen was significant. For the first time, all major economies made national commitments to curb emissions and pledged to transparently report on their mitigation efforts.
The United States and China also signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation on climate change, clean energy and environment. Sternberg says those actions are a good foundation for future progress.