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Foreign Relations

U.S., China pledge to cooperate on greenhouse gas mitigation

by Jeff Johnson
November 23, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 47

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao have pledged to work together to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement falls short of fixed greenhouse gas reductions or providing a schedule, but the presidents stated their willingness to work together in preparation for next month’s United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen.

In a joint statement in Beijing last week, they also announced a package of clean energy R&D initiatives and underscored the need to increase financial support for poor nations that are the most vulnerable to climate change.

According to the agreement, the nations together will provide at least 
$150 million over five years to fund a jointly operated clean energy research center to be based in each country. They will also conduct collaborative research to encourage clean-coal technologies, electric vehicles, renewable energy, shale-gas exploration, and new energy-efficiency technologies. And they will create a program to encourage cooperation between U.S. and Chinese companies.

Despite the joint statement’s lack of specifics, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council and an advocate for strong climate-change cuts, noted in a blog, “The fact that President Obama and President Hu Jintao met together to talk about climate change—a problem neither nation officially acknowledged just a few years ago—represents a huge leap down the path toward confronting this crisis.”


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