WASHINGTON (Mar. 18, 2009) – Minister Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, gave a singular public audience during his diplomatic trip to the USA at an event co-hosted by the Chinese environmental NGO, Global Environmental Institute (GEI), and the U.S. think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) on March 18, 2009. In addition to open sharing on national climate change strategies, participants discussed methods for increased China-US cooperation on climate change.
Minister XIE Zhenhua addresses the crowd – GEI 2009
At the event, Minister XIE presented China’s past and present policies and actions in response to climate change – the first ever remarks of this type in the USA. He also stated hope that China and the USA can work together to push for Sino-US dialogue and cooperation on climate change.
Senator Maria Cantwell gives her remarks – GEI 2009
Maria Cantwell, Washington State Senator and Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee of the Senate also gave remarks supporting increased bilateral climate cooperation between China and the USA.
The event welcomed a distinguished crowd of more than 100 people from non-governmental organizations, research institutions, U.S. government offices, universities and foundations.
This event was part of GEI’s project to support US-China Track II Dialogues on Climate Change that heavily involves CEIP experts and is supported by the blue moon fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Ms. Jessica Mathews, the president of the CEIP, and Mme Jin Jiaman, Executive Director of GEI, both also expressed their hopes for collaboration and gratitude at the event.
The US-China Track II Dialogues aimed to deepen the US public’s understanding of China’s efforts in addressing climate change and sought to further enhance the dialogue and understanding on climate change between the U.S. and China.
Potential Areas for US-China Climate Collaboration
- US state & Chinese province collaboration
Minister Xie suggested that in addition to the collaboration between the two central governments, the two countries can also explore collaboration between U.S. states and Chinese provinces.
- Clean energy cooperation & economic incentives
Senator Cantwell agreed that there can be more cooperation on clean energy initiatives specifically by bringing down tariffs on clean energy and environmental goods and services; continuing dialogue on trade policy and begin the development of a clean energy free trade zone in both China and the United States; and forging a more comprehensive US-China bilateral agreement on energy.
Strengths and Progress of China and US Energy Projects
Minister Xie described the achievements China has made on energy saving and emission reduction and expressed confidence that China can realize the energy saving targets set out in its 11th Five Year Plan.
Minister Xie also noted that China has always attached great importance to responding to climate change and maintained that China will work aggressively and actively to reduce its greenhouse emissions. He stressed the importance in approaching the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009 of abiding by the Bali roadmap and maintaining an emphasis on reduction, adaption, technology and funding.
Senator Cantwell emphasized the United State’s leading role in basic science research, high-tech manufacturing and an established process for commercialization of the research and for breakthroughs. She also acknowledged China’s strengths in manufacturing. She noted that both of these strengths would be put to good use were the two sides to strengthen cooperation on climate change.
Minister Xie’s Visit to the USA
Beginning on March 14, 2009, Minister XIE undertook an eight-day US diplomatic visit that had three purposes: First, to further promote the two countries’ understanding of each others’ positions and policies on climate change and to promote understanding and the cooperation between the two countries; second, to discuss mechanisms for arranging dialogue and cooperation to address climate change; third, to conduct preparation work for the meeting between the two governments this April.
Minister Xie conducted broad and in-depth discussions on a wide range of climate issues with several important people, including the US climate change envoy, Todd Stern; the chairman of the White House Committee on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley; Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu; Presidential Science Advisor, John Holdren; Deputy National Security Advisor, Michael Froman; EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson; President Obama’s special assistant on energy and climate change, Carol Browner; and Massachusetts senator, John Kerry.