China, US must lead on climate: experts

Updated: 2014-11-07 07:46

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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As the two largest emitters of carbon in the world, China and the United States need to cooperate on climate change, said an expert on the issue Thursday.

"The economic interdependence of the two countries is fundamental, so they're deeply related to each other," said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, which hosted a media call ahead of President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping's meeting in next week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

"The politics in both countries are easier on climate change if both countries move forward together," she said. "It's an important meeting for them to signal how they're going to work together, and also how they can drive ambition of each other and other countries as well."

Barbara Finamore, Asia director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that high-level meetings on climate issues "will give the US and China an opportunity to really hone in on what they might be willing to announce early next year for their level of commitment post 2020. It also gives them a chance to find levels of cooperation."

Joanna Lewis, professor at Georgetown University and an expert on energy and environment innovation in China, said that US-China cooperation has become more meaningful in the last five years, in technological cooperation and political engagement. She hopes that the APEC meeting builds momentum on climate change ahead of the United Nations' climate summit in Paris next year.

"We see China and the United States now working together not just to have broad policy dialogues, but to do joint research and development, pilot and demonstration projects in the context of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, which is being done in … a shared intellectual property rights framework, which is really quite novel," said Lewis.

Lewis was referring to the $150 million center established by Obama and former Chinese president Hu Jintao in 2009 to cooperate on research in physics, chemistry, and earth and atmospheric sciences.

Lewis said climate dialogue is a "really bright spot" in the broader relationship between the two nations, which has had seen some difficulty on cybersecurity and maritime issues.

"I think we can look for two categories of outcomes from this meeting; one being more of the same, which would be extremely useful but not game-changing; two would be really high-impact announcements that could reverberate into the international negotiations due to the power these two countries have among the world's developed and developing countries," she said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the US and China must respond to the global threat of climate change together.

"If the two countries that together are nearing 50 percent of all the emissions in the world, which happen to be also the two largest economies in the world, if they can come together and show seriousness of purpose, imagine what the impact could be on the rest of the world," Kerry said. "We need to solve this problem together."