US sends 'green' mission to China

Updated: 2015-03-19 11:36

By Chen Weihua in Washington(China Daily USA)

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China and the US are seeking to step up cooperation on energy, the environment and climate change following a major bilateral climate change deal reached in November during President Barack Obama's trip to Beijing.

The State Department announced on Wednesday that Todd Stern, US special envoy for climate change; Judith Garber, acting assistant secretary for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs; and Jonathan Elkind, principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs, are in Beijing now through Friday for a series of meetings.

Garber and Elkind will co-lead the US delegation to the China-US Ten-Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation, which was set up in 2008 to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices to foster innovation and develop solutions to challenges in seven areas: air, water, wetlands, nature reserves and protected areas, transportation, electricity and energy efficiency.

Meanwhile, Stern and Zhang Yong, vice-chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, will meet for sessions of the China-US Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), set up in April 2013 during Secretary of State John Kerry's first visit to Beijing.

The State Department described CCWG as the premier vehicle for bilateral cooperation on climate change.

During Obama's November visit to China, the two countries pledged major commitment in carbon reduction in the coming decades.

Describing the agreement as historic, Orville Schell, director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society, said that while the two countries disagree in many areas, they have been finding common ground and interest. "I think this brings us right to the environment," he said.

"This is an area which really deserves to be explored," he said. "We really do need to build more musculature between the two countries because here we can solve something. We can actually do something meaningful together."

Encouraged by the agreement, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will lead a business development mission to China in April to help US companies launch or increase their business in China in areas from green buildings and green data centers to waste treatment technologies and the smart grid.

The US side has described the trip as a major move to implement the Xi-Obama climate change agreement and help China reach its target.

The State Department also said on Wednesday that Garber will lead the sixth China-US Bilateral Forum on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade.

Through the forum, the US and China work toward our shared goal of protecting our natural resources by sharing best practices in forest-resource protection and sustainable forest management, according to the State Department.

"The forum provides an opportunity for both countries to review progress, consolidate gains in our collaborative activities, and invite private sector and civil society partners to join us in open discussions about future priorities," it said.

Several US and Chinese government agencies, such as in energy, forestry, finance, environmental protection, are participating in the meetings.

The State Department described both initiatives as supporting broader discussions under the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which meets annually in the US and China. The next meeting is expected to be in Washington this summer.