The U.S. energy secretary says global warming is proceeding more quickly than originally predicted. Stephen Chu is in China, the world's top emitter of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, to urge greater Sino-American cooperation to combat the problem.
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu told an overflow audience at Beijing's Tsinghua University that climate change is a growing and urgent problem. He says an effective solution will require stronger global cooperation.
"It's for this reason that one should not be saying, 'well, the developed world has thrown out [emitted] all this carbon - you made the problem, you fix it.' We all live in the same world," said Chu. "The developed world did make the problem, I admit that. But the developing world is going to make the problem much, much worse, and we're all in it together, so we have to fix it together."
China and the United States are the world's top two emitters of carbon dioxide, from burning coal and oil. Many scientists believe carbon dioxide is one of the main reasons climate change is accelerating.
"China and the US, together, now constitute 42 percent of all the carbon dioxide emitted in the world today," he said. "And so, what the United States does and what China does in the coming decade will actually, in large part, determine the fate of the world."
The two governments on Wednesday announced the creation of a joint research center to develop clean energy sources.
Chu's lengthy speech ran past the allotted time for questions from the students.
This 19-year-old physics freshman, surnamed Kang, says he would have asked Chu whether the U.S. plans to share its latest technology to combat climate change.
Kang says this is important because the technological level in many countries still lags behind that of the United States.
Technology is not the main issue for this 25-year-old graduate student, surnamed Han, who is in Tsinghua's Built Environment Department.
To her, it is a matter of changing personal habits and attitudes. She points out that Chinese people, on average, use less energy than Americans.
Han says for example, Americans use clothes dryers and dishwashers - all electric appliances. She says Chinese people like to hang their clothes to naturally and wash their dishes by hand.
At the same time, she says she is impressed with Chu, a Chinese-American Nobel Prize winner whose parents both graduated from Tsinghua University. She says if the U.S. and Chinese governments do cooperate to fight global warming, it can only be a good thing.