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Statement of Armond Cohen, Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force On Barack Obama’s arrival November 15 in China

11/13/09

The following statement was issued – in connection with President Barack Obama’s arrival on November 15th in China – by Armond Cohen, Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force (www.catf.us), an environmental organization advancing clean energy technology in the United States and China:

“President Obama should be applauded for traveling to China – in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December – to hold bilateral talks at the highest levels on, among other things, the importance of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The United States and China are together responsible for half of the world’s emissions, and both countries rely heavily on coal, which alone accounts for more than 40 percent of all energy-related CO2 emissions.

How our two nations address this issue will determine how successful we are in tackling climate change. This is a big two-nation problem, and neither will solve it alone.

That’s where a lot of recent commentary gets it wrong. Some, opposing any U.S. climate commitments, argue that China’s growing number of coal plants make U.S. efforts meaningless. Others argue that China will surpass the U.S. in green energy quickly, and, therefore, the U.S. needs to mobilize its own green efforts in order to beat China and grab the green jobs. 

The United States and China should be allies, not rivals, in the fight against global warming. Both governments should encourage more innovative partnerships between U.S. and Chinese energy companies. In particular, the two nations should establish a joint action plan aimed at increasing both public and private investments in low-carbon coal and carbon-storage projects. The plan should:

  • Increase Chinese investment in U.S. low-carbon projects;
  • Transfer key carbon-control technologies between the two countries;
  • Increase U.S. investment in future Chinese geologic sequestration sites; and
  • Facilitate joint ventures between U.S. and Chinese companies to develop low-carbon coal projects around the world.”