Wednesday, September 30, 2009

U.S.-China Climate Change Leadership: Five Ideas for a Common Agenda

NEW YORK, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the United States and China prepare for a bilateral summit on climate change in November, a pair of think tanks--one from each country--said today they have identified five concrete, business-oriented steps their nations could take together to combat climate change while meeting energy needs.

China and the United States--the world's two largest carbon emitters--should identify a handful of "world critical" technologies that address energy production and climate change, according to the China Reform Forum, the Chinese think tank, and the Carnegie Council, a New York-based institution. The two countries should then jointly develop the technologies under a bilateral regime that promotes private investment, project development, and shared intellectual property rights.

Carnegie Council and China Reform Forum said they had developed the proposed measures by convening an expert working group in New York on August 28.

The group identified specific areas in which the two countries could cooperate. Participants at the meeting noted such cooperation will require developing deeper trust. They said, however, finding ways to cooperate will help to build that trust--a reinforcing process. The deeper the level of trust, the more ambitious and successful joint projects will be. Successful cooperation can depoliticize the issue of climate change, allowing U.S. politicians to sell the issue to their constituents and expand the prospects for future bilateral cooperation, participants said.

The two think tanks urged the United States and China to:

- Identify five to ten top "critical" technologies that would abate climate change while increasing needed energy supplies in the near to medium term;

- Establish a bilateral protocol to spur joint development of these technologies by encouraging investment, development, and protection of intellectual property rights;

- Embark on joint research, perhaps creating laboratories, to develop "leapfrog technologies" beyond the carbon footprint--such as hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles or green buildings--with an eye toward harnessing entirely new infrastructures.

- Implement a joint pilot project in each country--such as carbon capture at a coal-fired electricity plant or smart electrical grid--at the local, state, or regional level.

- Support one another in creating and launching public education campaigns aimed at changing public opinion on climate change, strengthening the sense of individual responsibility, moving beyond a zero-sum notion of climate change obligations, and issuing a set of best practices.

The New York meeting, hosted by Booz & Company, a global management consulting firm, took place shortly after it was announced that President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China would hold a summit meeting in Beijing in November ahead of the multilateral climate change talks in Copenhagen this December.

The China Reform Forum sent the delegation to New York City and included a People's Liberation Army major general and leading climate change and economics researchers. Conference participants hailed from two United Nations agencies, North American think tanks, universities, and corporations, including IBM and Booz & Company.

The Carnegie Council and the China Reform Forum said they plan to reconvene within one year in Beijing with two goals in mind: to further develop a common ethical understanding between the United States and China on climate change and other issues, and to report back on the feedback from their networks on the five suggested areas of cooperation.

The meetings are the first steps in what both sides hope will be a strong, long-term, institutional relationship dedicated to the pursuit of common ethical approaches to problem solving.

To show international leadership on climate change the United States and China must overcome domestic mindsets suspicious of real burden-sharing. It was suggested that both countries should find ways to change public attitudes by, for example, recognizing, celebrating, and incentivizing green entrepreneurs.

For an interview with Joel Rosenthal, President of Carnegie Council, or other participants, please contact Carnegie Council Communications Director Madeleine Lynn at 1-212-838-4120 ext.222.

The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (, established in 1914 by Andrew Carnegie, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing understanding of the relationship between ethics and international affairs.

SOURCE Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs


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Robert Searle said...

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Robert Searle said...

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Gabriela Cordeiro Antunes said...

I think the argument made for the suggested direction the two countries, the United States and China, should take, namely, "jointly develop the technologies under a bilateral regime that promotes private investment, project development, and shared intellectual property rights" is lacking a component that protects/supports is citizens most marginalized by "private investment" and "project development".
In the case of China, it has a history, of displacing millions of its "peasants" (i.e. the Three Gorges dam project and the 2008 Olympics) in the name of "development projects". So, what can be anticipated with creating "leapfrog technologies"- how will its lower class benefit from new technologies?
In the case of the United States, how will the approximately 37million uninsured and poor benefit from greener energy? Will it increase jobs? Will their electric, gas, and heating bills be cheaper? What is the cost of creating greener technology? Will it be available to everyone or just a select few who can afford it?
The argument overall is an excellent approach but, I think the two countries should also negotiate a forth component that not only "educates" it's population but, also integrate the wellbeing of millions of poor that reside in both countries in their bilateral agreement.

Christopher Smith said...

The first two ideas proposed by the China Reform Forum and the Carnegie Council are saying that the US and China should get together to maximize the profits that will come out of the drive to mitigate climate change while at the same time not changing their energy consumption patterns. The first idea states clearly that these two think tanks propose that the US and China develop multiple climate change mitigation technologies while not only not curbing their energy use but increasing it in the near to medium term. The second idea states that if any of these new technologies should work, then these two states should secure their profit-making abilities through increased investment and protection of intellectual property rights. The US and China are the top two emitters of greenhouse gases and the developing world is b y far the most vulnerable to climate change due to global warming from the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases. This initiative is declaring that the developing world is the most vulnerable while at the same time the least able to financially deal with the adaptation of climate change, but if we somehow come up with a solution we will charge them through the roof with the solution without changing our energy consumption patterns. Sounds like the people with the least get stuck with the biggest cost yet again.

Kun said...

To curb the climate change needs joint efforts. It’s good to see the think tanks from the two largest carbon emitters –China and United State to work together. From the article, the China Reform Forum and the Carnegie Council underscore the importance of developing new technologies. And other things like deepening the level of mutual trust, private investment and intellectual property rights are all around the technology development. I agree technological innovation is really important. But it takes time for new technologies to put into practice. It might be one year from now, or five years or even longer. So, lots of measures should be in place simultaneously to protect environment. For example, relevant regulations should help prevent business from harming environment for profit, and education should reach everyone.