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Private sector joins climate-change fight

By CHEN WEIHUA in Washington (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2015-06-23 11:09:03


China and the United States are fostering cooperation on climate change by enlisting more engagement with the private sector.

On Monday evening, China's Special Representative for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua and US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and other officials witnessed the signing of agreements by Chinese and US private sector partners on carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS).

Xie, Stern and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz praised the historic agreement reached by President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama in Beijing last November, committing the two largest greenhouse producers to carbon reduction after 2020. China has agreed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030.

Xie said that the Chinese government places emphasis on climate change. He estimated that total investment for China to reach the 2030 target in improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy and non-fossil fuels would amount to 41 trillion yuan (about $6.6 trillion). "And if investment in environment protection is included, this market is huge," Xie said.

He said he hopes that technological innovation and market participation will help reduce the cost of reaching the ambitious target. "This is what we are striving for at home," he said.

Xie praised the China-US cooperation on climate change as win-win cooperation to benefit the two countries and the world.

Stern praised the November agreement as a boost to the bilateral relationship between the two countries and a demonstration to the world that they can work together to solve global problems. "It was a huge shot of momentum to the climate-change negotiations," he said.

There are now 30 eco-partners set up between China and the US over the years, including six this year to share best practices and foster innovation in development, according to Stern.

"US-China climate cooperation is strong, but we have a lot more work to do," Stern said, referring to the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December this year.

Both Stern and Moniz emphasized the role that private sector partners can play in building a low-carbon economy.

"When the history is written about our global success in rising to the challenge of climate change, both mitigation and adaptation, part of it will describe how the research and technical support of governments and other institutions are crucial, but even more so it will show our private businesses did the heavy lifting, taking technology to market, competing in the global market, taking risks, making our clean energy solutions work, driving innovation and cost reduction," said Moniz, who will visit China in July to seek further cooperation between China and the US on climate change and clean technology.

"China and the US have charted serious efforts to shift to low-carbon energy and to cooperate in that work. They are demonstrating that they can do more by working together and by involving the private sector," said Paul Joffe, a senior foreign policy counsel at World Resources Institute.

"The S&ED (Strategic & Economic Dialogue) can help demonstrate these benefits and build the support that is needed to further strengthen cooperation and take it to greater scale," he said. "That will help make the kind of strong progress necessary to achieve and exceed the targets set by the two countries."