U.S.-China Climate Cooperation
As the world’s two largest economies and emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States and China have a special responsibility to lead in reducing the threat of global climate change. In November 2014, President Obama and President Xi made a historic Joint Announcement on Climate Change, establishing ambitious, respective climate pledges and committing to work together, and with other countries, to achieve a global climate agreement in Paris this December and a long-term transition to low-carbon economies. Building on this momentum at the 2015 Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), the United States and China demonstrated progress on existing cooperation and deepened their now-robust relationship on addressing climate change through a series of announcements and events.
The United States and China released over fifty outcomes highlighting constructive engagement on climate change, clean energy, and environment. Collectively, these outcomes underscore the strength and breadth of U.S.-China climate cooperation, detailing comprehensive, collaborative initiatives in sectors responsible for significant emissions of greenhouse gases. The initiatives leverage the diverse expertise of multiple U.S. agencies and Chinese ministries, as well as civil society, sub-national entities, and the private sector, in responding to climate change. The U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) will also soon release its annual report, which was approved at the Joint Session on Climate Change. Highlights of the announcements include:
- Reaffirmation of the commitment to achieve an ambitious, global climate agreement by working closely together, and with other countries, to overcome obstacles to reaching a successful deal in Paris this December. The S&ED co-chairs highlighted this goal at a public “Act on Climate” session, and then discussed next steps on the road to a Paris agreement during a follow-up closed-door joint session. Both sides also held in-depth discussions through the Climate Change Working Group’s Enhanced Policy Dialogue.
- Progress through the Climate Change Working Group (CCWG). The U.S.-China CCWG was launched by Secretary Kerry and State Councilor Yang in 2013 and is the premier mechanism for U.S.-China cooperation and dialogue on climate change. At the S&ED, the CCWG highlighted progress on its existing initiatives, including successful demonstration of significant energy and cost savings through smart grid pilot projects; expansion of cooperation on greenhouse gas accounting and management to cover the oil and gas sector; policy exchanges related to significant domestic policy progress on motor vehicles; launching of an industry-led working group of U.S. and Chinese stakeholders to develop deep energy saving retrofit pilot projects in buildings and industry; and continued dialogue on domestic and international plans to phase down production and consumption of HFCs. The CCWG also expanded cooperation, as outlined below.
- Announcement of the first-ever Climate-Smart / Low-Carbon Cities Summit to be held this fall in Los Angeles. Both sides will invite sub-national leaders and delegations from each country to announce actions to combat climate change and share experiences and best practices through technical exchanges and a private sector exhibition. The U.S. and China further decided to cooperate on Smart Infrastructure for Urbanization through pilot projects and demonstrations.
- Launch of a new cooperative initiative on Green Ports and Vessels, to mitigate emissions and impacts on air quality and climate change of ports and vessels.
- Launch of a new Race-to-Zero Emissions electric bus program, a collaborative effort to encourage cities and metropolitan transit districts to put a new generation of advanced, non-polluting buses on the roads in communities across the United States and China.
- Announcement of two new Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) projects under the Climate Change Working Group (CCWG): an Ordos Basin CCUS-Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) project and a Guangdong Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Offshore Storage project.
- Launch of Phase 2 to improve efficiency and reduce emissions from industrial boilers responsible for nearly one-fifth of China’s total coal consumption. Building on the successful completion of a joint policy implementation roadmap, the two sides agreed to explore the use of U.S. technology in one or more pilot cities in China in Phase 2.
- Admission of six new EcoPartnerships. Six new EcoPartners will add to efforts on carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emission reductions, conservation, and clean energy by bringing together local governments, NGOs, and private companies to cooperate on innovative projects. The EcoPartnerships program catalyzes subnational cooperation on climate change, clean energy, and sustainable development in the United States and China under the Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment.
- Engaging the Private Sector: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced several new activities that promote public-private collaboration to combat climate change, including an initiative to reduce emissions from seaports in China and an initiative to demonstrate big data technologies for smarter grids and greater integration of renewable energy. USTDA also announced eight workshops and two study tours that will focus on electric vehicles, promoting environmental protection technologies for shale gas, and reducing nitrogen oxides from gas-fired boilers. These activities were highlighted during an event on June 22 celebrating industry’s important technical contributions to the initiatives of the Climate Change Working Group.
- Creation of a new U.S.-China Domestic Policy Dialogue under the CCWG to facilitate regular dialogue on each country’s respective domestic actions towards achieving its pre- and post-2020 climate targets.