- Title: CHINA: United States pushes for green energy cooperation with China
- Date: 16th July 2009
- Summary: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, CHINA (FILE) (REUTERS) FACTORIES FILMED FROM ABOVE VARIOUS OF SMOKESTACKS
- Embargoed: 31st July 2009 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: International Relations,Environment / Natural World
- Reuters ID: LVAEFMJ2JWAZL881KOPRT747FR6I
- Story Text: U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke arrived in Beijing on Tuesday (July 14) for a three-day visit, focusing on developing mutually beneficial relationships between the U.S. and China in the clean energy sector, and setting the stage for a visit by President Barack Obama to China later this year.
Ahead of December's U.N. meeting in Copenhagen, when powers hope to agree on a successor to the Kyoto protocol, cooperation between the United States and China is considered essential for the world to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions blamed for global warming.
This visit is part of the United States' efforts to press China to lower its tariffs on clean energy technology, which is one of many steps the two countries can take to fight global warming, U.S. officials said on Monday (July 13).
Locke toured Beijing's Economic-Technological Development Area on Wednesday (July 15), visiting a hydro-electric power plant using Pratt Whitney technology, as well as a Cummins Manufacturing Plant producing low-emissions motors.
Both of the iconic U.S. clean-tech companies have an increasing presence in China, with several factories across the country.
Locke, who is making his first trip to China as a member of the Obama administration, said he regarded cooperation between the U.S and China on energy efficiency technologies as "one of the most beneficial areas of cooperation in the history of U.S.-China relations."
Dialogue between Locke and Chinese authorities was expected to focus on accelerating and enhancing the role of the private sector in driving cooperation, investment and trade in clean energy in China, U.S. officials have said.
"So these are win-win opportunities between China and the United States, using American technology know-how, but using Chinese workers to build these products and creating a better environment for the people of China," Locke said during his tour.
Although the United States and China have tremendous trade potential in areas such as wind power, energy efficiency, clean coal and modernisation of the electric grid, the U.S. is worried about China's practices that favour domestic companies and weak intellectual property rights protection that put patented U.S. products at risk.
Locke said that focusing on green energy would not just help China fend off the effects of global warming, it would also benefit its economy and boost employment.
"So focusing on cleaning up the environment, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, actually creates thousands, and thousands, and thousands of good paying jobs for the people of China," Locke said.
But while Locke was optimistic on green energy cooperation, he expressed concern on Wednesday about the ongoing trade imbalance between the two countries during a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.
"Chief among them is a bilateral trade imbalance that simply cannot be sustained. Growth predicated on ever-increasing Chinese exports being consumed by debt-laden Americans provided years of prosperity, but it also sowed some of the seeds for our current economic problems," he said.
He also said China should shift from export-led growth, increase its exchange rate flexibility, and further open its markets.
He praised China for taking steps to stimulate its domestic economy, but said it could help the world economy even more with further reforms.
"If China allowed for greater flexibility in its exchange rate and further opened up its domestic market for import and foreign direct investment, it would accelerate the world's return to growth," he said.
The U.S. is China's second-largest trade partner after the European Union, and accounts for 18 percent of China's total imports and exports.
President Barack Obama will seek to restore balance in the two countries' trade, Locke said, noting that the U.S trade deficit with China last year set a record of nearly $270 billion U.S dollars.
Energy Minister Steven Chu on Wednesday said China and other developing countries must to be prepared to work with developed countries in cutting carbon emissions.
In a speech to students at the capital's prestigious Tsinghua University, where both of his parents had studied, Chu said he understood complaints from China and other developing nations that countries like the U.S. have spent 150 years or more using dirty fossil fuels to grow their economies.
However, a failure to change the current pattern of emissions could be disastrous for the planet, he said.
"So it's simply because China has so many more people that the carbon that China, India, Mexico and Brazil and other developing countries will emit over the next 30 to 50 years will begin to dwarf the amount of carbon emitted throughout the whole world. So it's for this reason that one should not be saying 'Well, the developed world has thrown out all this carbon. You made the problem, you fix it.' We all live in the same world. The developed world did make the problem, I admit that, but the developing world is going to make that problem much worse and we're all in it together so we have to fix it together," said Chu.
Chu added if China did not try to grow in a more efficient way and use more forms of renewable energy, the amount of carbon that it will have emitted in the next 30 years would exceed all the carbon that the US had ever emitted, based on increases in China's CO2 emissions over the last three years.
In recent years, China has surpassed the United States to become the world's biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, although its per capita emissions are still far lower.
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