Obama's Trip to China: What's on the Green Agenda?

obama china green agenda photo

Photo via China Dialogue

Next week, Obama is taking off on his high-profile first trip to China. The meeting of the two biggest economies in the world on Chinese soil is fraught with symbolism and brimming with potential. The notoriously fickle and fragile relationship between the two nations will be under the microscope more than ever--this Washington Post piece dedicates itself to scrutinizing the very words used to describe the relationship. But of course, here at TreeHugger, we'll be watching to see what unfolds in terms of climate and energy policy--so what's on the US-China green agenda? Talking Climate Change in China
Number one, of course, is climate change. Perhaps no nations butt heads as vigorously as the US and China on climate issues (though India's certainly as vocal as well). The standard US line on climate has been that China's refusal to set carbon emission reduction targets is the reason that we never ratified Kyoto. And it's one of the main reasons that so many are weary of signing onto a new treaty, or setting domestic reduction targets now.

China says the US must set binding targets first, then it will follow suit. You can see the dilemma.

Now, little progress is expected to be made on that issue, though it will certainly be near the top of the agenda. But the US and China have made progress on some other green fronts--they've pledged to cooperate on renewable energy in a joint research project (China is developing alternative energy at a breakneck speed right now), and initiatives like this could be furthered.

What's Green for China is Green for the US
The National Resource Defense Council has outlined some of the moves Obama could make on this trip, and I think they're sensible ones. Basically: be candid about the progress on the US climate bill in the Senate, put China's carbon reduction efforts in the spotlight and encourage them, and to enhance the two countries' cooperation on clean tech and green market development.

The Center for American Progress has a more specific suggestion for Obama and Hu--start laying down the road map for cooperating on carbon capture and sequestration. They've published a report, aptly called A Roadmap for US-China Collaboration on Carbon Capture and Sequestration, that outlines how "cooperative efforts that advance the long-term research, development, and deployment of CCS could produce tremendous benefits for both nations, including job growth and lower electricity costs."

All eyes will be on the meeting between the two powerhouses--here's to hoping some tangible progress can rise from the midst of all the posturing and symbolism.

More on China and US Climate Debate
China-US Talks: Tea, a Photo Op and Two Big Question Marks
No More Excuses for US , China : Google Funds Clean Energy Study
Will China and the US Go Big on Climate Cooperation?

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