Environment | February 22, 2009 |
Secretary Clinton: U.S.-China Cooperation Needed on Climate
On her first trip to China as U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton talked about U.S.-China clean energy cooperation. In remarks made Saturday at an efficient coal plant in Beijing, Clinton focused on the interdependence of global climate change.
She began by reviewing the 30-year diplomatic relationship between the two nations. Clinton then emphasized the American commitment to addressing global warming: "We take very seriously in the Obama administration, the issue of climate change. And we are going to be taking strong action to lower carbon emissions dramatically, and develop alternative sources of energy. The stimulus package of $790 billion that President Obama just signed includes extensive new investments in clean energy."
Clinton also noted energy secretary Steven Chu's desire to increase collaborations between American and Chinese universities for developing intellectual property and new technologies.
Joint action is especially necessary now that China has surpassed the United States as the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide. The plant visited by Clinton was built using technology from General Electric which cuts emissions by half and greatly lowers water usage. However, it is still a coal-fired facility, and it's going to take much more innovation to even stabilize Chinese carbon emissions.
Near the end of her speech, she recalled a Chinese proverb that says, "Dig the well before you are thirsty." Clinton's interpretation was that, "The 21st century is testing us to determine whether we are smart enough to follow that advice. I think we are. And I know that we are going to do everything we can in the Obama administration to pass out a lot of shovels so we can dig a lot of wells so we can take care of all the thirst that is out there for a new future, a future of tremendous opportunity."
Secretary Clinton closed with a note of optimism about this next green phase of U.S.-China relations, saying, "And so, now we have to take the next 30 years, and make our mark."
Clinton's remarks are encouraging, but the challenge of reforming both countries' dirty ways will take an enormous effort, especially for China, a fast-growing nation on an A-Rod-like dose of economic steroids. However, as with all great endeavors, voicing a commitment is the first essential step.