China and the US should adopt concrete policies to protect the environment and "commercialize new technologies" to increase energy efficiency, experts said on Wednesday.
Energy and the environment are expected to figure prominently at the fifth China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) beginning Thursday in Beijing.
China and the US are two of the world's largest coal consumers, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses (GHG).
The milestone US-China Ten Year Energy and Environment Cooperation Framework was adopted at the fourth SED meeting held in Washington in June. But no concrete action plans have taken shape since, the experts said.
The two countries had pledged to expand cooperation over the next decades in areas such as generation and transmission of clean energy, providing clean air and water, improving transportation and protecting forests and wetlands.
But "people working in the energy sector, both in China and the US, know nothing or very little about the 10-year cooperation framework", said Zhu Lei, vice-president of US-China Green Energy Council's China operation.
"That's why I hope some feasible and mutually beneficial policies would be inked at the SED (which will) help the two countries jointly explore new ideas, share knowledge and commercialize new technologies," Zhu said.
The two governments should acknowledge their shared responsibility in the fight against climate change and energy crisis, he said. "They should build a bridge to facilitate effective communications between governments and the private sector," Zhu added.
US president-elect Barack Obama has taken global warming seriously. In a video address at the Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, California, on Nov 19, Obama pledged to turn over "a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change".
Soon after winning the presidential election, Obama said any nation willing to join the fight against climate change was welcome as an ally of the US.
"Obama's pledge allayed our worries that the 10-year cooperation framework could be abandoned by the new US administration," said He Zuoxiu, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is engaged in developing renewable energy technologies.
Obama has promised to invest $15 billion a year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future, which, he says would steer the US out of the current economic crisis.
"China should join hands with the US on the issue," He said. "We should give the renewable energy sector a bigger share from the government's $586-billion stimulus package."
The renewed 10-year cooperation framework is expected to carry greater business weight, too.
Zhou Shijian, a senior researcher with the Tsinghua University, said the environment and energy were the right topics for the SED because China should not be pressed further to revaluate its currency.
Energy and the environment will be a "new bright spot" in the Sino-US economic and trade cooperation.
"As China is planning to build over 40 nuclear power plants in the next 10 years it's highly likely that nuclear technology will become the next focus of bilateral economic and trade cooperation," Zhou said.