Will U.S. and China really cooperate on climate change?

Articles
March 03, 2009

Will U.S. and China really cooperate on climate change?

Skepticism may abound over China’s attempts to improve food safety and human rights. But when it comes to facing the universal challenge of climate change—think global warming—the U.S. is looking to China as a willing and significant partner. High priorities for both nations are the lessening of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases, which scientists connect to rising temperatures. A new report, “A Roadmap for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change,” by the Asia Society and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, urges both governments to “lay out areas for cooperation, including low-emissions coal technologies, energy efficiency and conservation, and renewable supply,” according to a New York Times account. While economic health is the first order of business for both nations today, Wu Jianmin, a senior advisor to China’s Foreign Ministry, at least put a positive face on the potential of cooperation. He said, the Times noted: “I believe climate change may become a very important issue which will put China-U.S. relations in a new framework in the 21st Century because the stakes are high. We all understand we don’t have much time left.” While such potential stirs the imagination, only action determines what will actually be achieved. At SupermarketGuru.com, we were disheartened to learn from a recent Financial Times report that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao doesn’t plan to agree to specific limits at a United Nations conference on climate change slated for December 2009.

Skepticism may abound over China’s attempts to improve food safety and human rights.  But when it comes to facing the universal challenge of climate change—think global warming—the U.S. is looking to China as a willing and significant partner.

High priorities for both nations are the lessening of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases, which scientists connect to rising temperatures. A new report, “A Roadmap for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change,” by the Asia Society and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, urges both governments to “lay out areas for cooperation, including low-emissions coal technologies, energy efficiency and conservation, and renewable supply,” according to a New York Times account.

While economic health is the first order of business for both nations today, Wu Jianmin, a senior advisor to China’s Foreign Ministry, at least put a positive face on the potential of cooperation. He said, the Times noted: “I believe climate change may become a very important issue which will put China-U.S. relations in a new framework in the 21st Century because the stakes are high. We all understand we don’t have much time left.”   

While such potential stirs the imagination, only action determines what will actually be achieved. At SupermarketGuru.com, we were disheartened to learn from a recent Financial Times report that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao doesn’t plan to agree to specific limits at a United Nations conference on climate change slated for December 2009.

If, as we fear, China’s apparent intent to cooperate with the U.S. turns out to be so much hot air, or gets diverted by other significant issues between these two countries, the entire planet and its human and animal populations could suffer dramatically as a result. We consider the abundance of reports, policy advisers and ideas aired about what both immense producers of greenhouse gases need to do as trappings.  It’s time our leaders unite on an issue that is growing hotter with each passing month.