Climate Change and Clean Energy at the 2016 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
Climate change is a pillar of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. Over the past few years, expanded dialogue and cooperation have heralded a new era of climate leadership by the world’s two largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters. President Obama and President Xi have issued a series of joint statements on climate change, including most recently in March 2016 on the two countries’ respective intentions to sign the Paris Agreement and join as early as possible this year. U.S.-China climate leadership, a major contributor to the success of the December 2015 Paris Agreement, is catalyzing action to help the world transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future and is an enduring legacy of the U.S.-China partnership.
Underscoring this Presidential leadership is a strong commitment to bilateral engagement and cooperation on climate. As in years past, the 2016 Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) cemented this commitment through dozens of agreed outcomes reflecting ongoing progress and expanded cooperation on climate change and clean energy. The United States and China are working closely together – sharing regulatory experience, jointly developing and demonstrating technologies, engaging leading sub-national, private sector, and civil society actors, and more – to accelerate solutions that support meeting or exceeding their respective domestic climate targets.
Climate change and clean energy highlights of this year’s S&ED outcomes include:
- Commitments to progress through the Montreal Protocol, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the G-20: The two countries agreed to work together and with others to achieve successful climate outcomes this year through key climate fora that complement the Paris Agreement. Regarding the Montreal Protocol, they reaffirmed their support for adopting an ambitious HFC phasedown amendment this year that could prevent up to half a degree Celsius of warming. In the International Civil Aviation Organization, they committed to supporting the adoption of a global market-based measure this fall, to address CO2 emissions from international aviation. In the G-20, they agreed to work together to drive strong outcomes on climate change and clean energy, including on heavy-duty vehicles.
- Expansion of sub-national climate cooperation and leadership: The second U.S.-China Climate-Smart / Low-Carbon Cities Summit was held in Beijing in early June on the margins of the S&ED. Building on the success and momentum from last fall’s inaugural summit in Los Angeles, the event featured participation by leaders from 47 Chinese cities and provinces and 17 U.S. cities, counties, and states interacting across three plenary sessions and 17 sectoral breakout sessions. 66 cities from both countries endorsed the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Declaration, bringing the total number of signatories to77. Signatories declared their intention to establish ambitious climate targets, regularly report on greenhouse gas emissions, establish climate action plans, and expand bilateral cooperation. In parallel, the number of cities in China’s “Alliance of Peaking Pioneer Cities” (APPC) – cities committing to peak CO2 emissions early – doubled from the founding 11 members in September 2015 to 22 members today. The City of Boston was announced as the host of the third U.S.-China Climate-Smart / Low-Carbon Cities Summit in 2017.
- Launch of new cooperation on Power Consumption, Demand, and Competition: To complement and enhance their existing cooperation on reducing the climate impacts of the electricity grid, the two sides have launched a new cooperative effort under the Climate Change Working Group on Power Consumption, Demand, and Competition. The cooperation is designed to support increasing utilization and integration of renewable energy in China. An inaugural meeting was held at the 2016 S&ED where the two sides exchanged best practices on institutional innovations and policy actions for promoting power systems that support low-carbon, climate-resilient, and sustainable development.
Progress towards reducing the energy and environmental impacts of heavy-duty vehicles: The U.S. and China continue to work closely together to share experiences and best practices to reduce the energy and environmental impacts of motor vehicles, especially trucks and buses responsible for disproportionate climate and air quality impacts.
- The two countries formally launched the “Race to Zero Emissions” program to support increased deployment of electric and other zero-emission urban buses (https://www.transportation.gov/R2ZE).
- The two sides pledged to work together and with other countries to secure agreement among G20 countries to improve fuel quality and the energy efficiency and emissions performance of heavy-duty vehicles this year.
- China has accelerated its timeline for finalizing the world-class “China 6/VI” emissions standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, and announced, for the first time, its intention to implement them nationwide by 2020.
- Strong accounting and transparency for China’s national ETS: Through technical exchanges under the CCWG, the United States will assist China’s efforts to develop a robust national GHG reporting program, particularly as it rolls out its emissions trading systems. China is poised to collect national greenhouse gas emissions data for the first time in the summer of 2016. Through the CCWG, China and the U.S. are also working together to improve MRV capacity for forests, which will support not only the ETS but also national-level GHG estimation and reporting.
- Private Sector Engagement: Recognizing the important role of the private sector in combatting climate change, the two sides continued to cooperate with industry to implement climate change policy goals. The U.S. Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) organized four study tours and two workshops that introduced Chinese delegations to U.S. technologies related to green infrastructure, smart grid, air quality improvement, green airport construction, energy performance contracting, and introducing new energy sources into the greater Beijing region. In support of the U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program (ECP) and China’s efforts to mitigate the environmental effects of coal-fired power, USTDA also plans to partner with Chinese entities and ECP member companies to conduct pilot projects demonstrating technologies related to distributed energy combined heat & power.
- Ongoing collaboration through the CCWG: The U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), now in its fourth year, continues to support two regular bilateral dialogue series – the Enhanced Policy Dialogue and the Domestic Policy Dialogue – and has grown to encompass nine concrete action initiatives targeting a diverse set of sectors and gases looking at both the short and long-term. The CCWG released its annual report documenting progress and next steps across all elements, including the action initiatives Heavy-Duty and Other Vehicles; Electric Power Systems; Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage; Energy Efficiency in Buildings and Industry; Collecting and Managing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data; Climate Change and Forests; Climate-Smart / Low-Carbon Cities; Industrial Boilers Efficiency and Fuel Switching; and Green Ports and Vessels.
For further information, please contact Allyn Brooks-LaSure at Brooks-LaSureM@state.gov .