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At this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., the two countries built on their robust cooperation on climate change and clean energy. The U.S. and China pledged to work together to address obstacles to an “ambitious global climate agreement” at this December’s Conference of the Parties in Paris. They also agreed to continue to discuss each country’s post-2020 plans, and announced a new dialogue on domestic policy. The countries highlighted their progress on the initiatives they jointly announced in November, such as phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and expanding the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC).
- The U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership (USCREP) aims to advance the viability of renewable energy by addressing barriers to deployment and grid integration.
- The USCREP promotes policy, planning, and coordination for renewable energy; supports efficient grid integration for renewable generation; participates in efforts to develop international standards for the quality of wind and solar technology; and promotes the deployment of distributed solar generation and concentrated solar power.
- Opportunities for U.S. clean technologies through USCREP-fostered cooperation lead to potential job creation and expanding exports.
Given last November’s historic joint climate announcement, much anticipation has been focused on the contributions of the United States and China towards December’s Paris climate deal. At the end of March, the United States announced its intended nationally-determined contribution (INDC), and China is expected to release the details of its pledge in the next few months. Already, there is concern that the country submissions are behind and that they will not be sufficient to narrow the emissions gap sufficiently after 2020 to contain global temperature rise. That countries might submit less ambitious commitments is a serious concern, as the Climate Action Tracker has said about Japan’s prospective commitments, for example. Either way, the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change are so substantial that additional “cycles of action” are needed both at the upcoming Paris Summit and beyond.
This op-ed originally appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog:
When U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly announced major targets to combat climate change last November, they did more than chart an ambitious course for their two countries. The leaders of the world’s two biggest economies – which are also the planet’s two biggest energy consumers and greenhouse gas emitters – showed a way forward for U.S. bilateral cooperation with other countries on energy and climate.
With the U.S. release of its proposal for the international climate negotiations and proposals expected soon from other countries, the negotiations are intensifying. A key factor in this dynamic is China’s November commitment to peak its emissions and scale up non-fossil energy, which has shifted the global debate on climate action. China is already taking action on multiple fronts to meet its new goals.
For many years, Chinese regulators have learned about nuclear safety from working with the United States, but nuclear safety cooperation is becoming increasingly a two-way street. Nuclear energy could play a significant role in meeting China’s new climate goals stated in its November 11th, 2014 joint announcement with the U.S. This includes targets to peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2030—with the intention to do so sooner—and to raise the non-fossil fuel share of energy use to around 20 percent by that date. The U.S. and China are working together to ensure attention to safety considerations in China’s projected expansion of nuclear power.
Drawing on preliminary energy demand data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated that China’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2 percent last year, the first reduction in over a decade. Other reports indicate China’s coal consumption also declined, by 2.9 percent, in 2014; and the share of non-fossil energy in China’s energy consumption rose last year, while coal fell as a percentage of the country’s energy mix. According to the International Energy Agency, even as the global economy grew by 3%, global energy-related carbon emissions did not rise in 2014, due to shifts in energy use in China and OECD countries.