U.S., China Collaborate on Climate, Oceans, Energy, Wildlife

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, makes a point at the negotiating table at this week's S&ED (Photo courtesy State Dept.)


WASHINGTON, DC, July 12, 2013 (ENS) – The U.S. and China have agreed to combat climate change through new cooperation on heavy-duty and other vehicles; smart grids; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; collecting and managing greenhouse gas data; and energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

The agreement was one of nearly 90 separate agreements – many of them environmental – reached during the Fifth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, S&ED, held July 10-11 in Washington.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue was established in 2009 by U.S. President Barack Obama and then Chinese President Hu Jintao, providing for annual high-level meetings alternating between the two countries.

President Barack Obama talks with President Xi Jinping of China at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., June 7, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The tone of this week’s meeting was set by President Obama and China’s new President Xi Jinping at their informal meeting in California last month; the two presidents agreed to work together to build a new model of major country relationship between China and the United States.

At the opening of the S&ED in Washington on Wednesday, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said, “This round of S&ED presents a new model of major country relationship that is based on non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and willing cooperation. I’m sure that the outcomes of the dialogue will further boost our confidence in building a new model of major country relationship. Let’s join hands and write a new chapter in our cooperation across the Pacific.”

Presidents Obama and Xi also agreed to phase down consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, refrigerants that also are powerful greenhouse gases.

“Our job, in this forum of the S&ED, is to turn the important agreement between the two presidents into tangible outcomes,” said Wang.

In addition, the two governments established the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group in April to develop and implement bilateral cooperation on climate change between the two countries.

Vice President Joe Biden said, “The race to develop cleaner, more affordable energy sources through a mix of competition and cooperation, to state the obvious, can benefit both our people and the people in the world. So I welcome the new energy and climate dialogue and our agreement to reduce the pollutants known as HFCs, which make an outsized contribution to climate change.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We together have a responsibility to meet the emerging challenges that affect us and draw attention to those challenges to the rest of the world. How will we curb climate change? How will we pioneer new energy technology, which is, in fact, the response to climate change? Energy policy is the solution to climate change.”

During this S&ED round, the two governments decided to enhance cooperation on nuclear energy. U.S. and Chinese nuclear regulators plan in the coming year to exchange personnel to share expertise on construction and licensing of the Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactor, the only Generation III+ reactor to receive design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The two countries agreed to jointly combat illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials.

S&ED participants welcomed China’s development of the legal and regulatory framework covering unconventional oil and natural gas, including stronger regulation over fugitive methane emissions during production and distribution of natural gas and water use during production. The two governments decided to promote technical and environmental protection cooperation in unconventional energy resources such as shale gas, including through a series of shale gas development technical workshops in China.

The two countries will enhance exchange and cooperation on the joint research and development of monitoring, warning and risk assessment technology for severe weather and climate, such as hurricanes, droughts, high temperature, and heat waves, in order to jointly improve the ability to respond to severe weather and climate events.

On other environmental issues:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, makes a point at the negotiating table at this week’s S&ED (Photo courtesy State Dept.)

The two governments affirmed their commitment to cooperate on establishing a marine protected area in the Ross Sea of Antarctica especially in the time prior to and during the Second Special Meeting of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to be held July 15-16, 2013, in Bremerhaven, Germany.

The two countries agreed to continue their 20-year partnership to combat the use of drift nets on the high seas. The U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service will again welcome officers from China Fishery Law Enforcement Command  this summer on U.S. Coast Guard cutters patrolling the Pacific Ocean for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

NOAA and the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences affirmed their commitment to the Living Marine Resources Panel, including the upcoming meeting in February 2014 in Seattle, and ongoing projects, including joint research on the Western Gray Whale, information exchange on alternative feeds research for aquaculture production and sea turtle research, scientist staff exchange on stock enhancement and sea ranching, and a workshop to exchange information on oil spill effects on living marine resources.

China and the United Sates expanded their EcoPartnership program with the signing of six new partnerships to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, improve energy efficiency and create jobs.

The new agreements will add six partnerships to the original group of 18, said Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at a signing ceremony. The EcoPartnership program was founded under the Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment signed in 2008.

At the signing ceremony, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said, “The six new EcoPartnerships we are committing to today are the best of the best. Some of you will be working on energy efficiency while others will be creating cutting-edge technologies to use landfill gas, conserve our groundwater resources and create plant-based plastic bottles. Whatever your project, I wish you the best in your work together.”

Under the EcoPartnership agreements, China’s Yangtze River Delta Circular Economy Technology Research Institute and U.S. drinks giant Coca-Cola will work together to develop a way to use agricultural waste to produce Coke’s plastic bottles.

Peking University will cooperate with New York Institute of Technology to protect groundwater resources.

Tongji University will join with Stony Brook University to test landfill-gas-to-liquids technologies.

Guizhou International Cooperation Center for Environmental Protection and Raven Ridge Resources will jointly seek to open China’s market for draining and utilizing coal mine methane.

Beijing Energy Conservation and Environment Protection Center and U.S. nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council will partner to expand large-scale energy efficiency programs in China.

China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation will partner with the U.S. Institute for Sustainable Communities to help translate national-level clean energy policies into local action.

Under the Eco-City Project, the two countries announced six pilot eco-cities which will study and develop comparative eco-city guidelines and standards, determine technology and deployment needs, and assess the effects and best practices in sustainable urban development.

U.S. and Chinese officials agreed on continued collaboration to reduce air and water pollution, encourage renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, and monitor greenhouse gas concentrations.

To support reduced emissions from vehicles, they announced a new intelligent transportation system pilot project and feasibility study for Panyu District Government in Guangzhou. A new Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reduction Initiative will address aviation emissions.

A new green ports collaboration is intended to expand the knowledge and capabilities of Chinese ports for environmental protection and oil spill response.

To combat the global illegal trade in wildlife the two governments agreed to strengthen enforcement at the national, regional, and global level, including through enhanced cooperation among law enforcement agencies. They agreed to try to eliminate illegal supply of and demand for wildlife and products and to collaborate with other governments, including range states, to strengthen international cooperation in wildlife conservation and protection.

Since 2009, the sharing of experience on environmental legislation has become a crucial component of U.S.-China environmental cooperation. Through a USAID-funded program, the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law at Vermont Law School and the EPA collaborated with the National Judges College to train 15 judges on environmental adjudication and to develop an environmental law curriculum that will be used to train judges from across China. The EPA collaborated with Chinese judges on two environmental law study tours to the United States in 2012 and plans to collaborate with China Maritime Court Judges on a study tour in 2013.

Vice President Biden said, “Mechanisms like the Strategic and Economic Dialogue play an important role in managing our complex relationship. If together we get it right, we can leave behind a much better future for our children and for their children, and quite frankly, for the world.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.

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