printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Report of the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group to the Strategic and Economic Dialogue


Special Envoy for Climate Change 
Washington, DC
July 10, 2013

Share

The U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (hereinafter referred to as the Working Group) submits this Report to the Special Representatives of Leaders of the United States and China for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (hereinafter referred to as the S&ED) pursuant to the Joint Statement on Climate Change issued by the United States and China on April 13, 2013.

Introduction

We have prepared this Report mindful of the overwhelming scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change and its worsening impacts, as well as the urgent need to intensify global efforts to combat climate change. Rising temperatures are predicted to lead to sea level rise that could affect tens of millions of people around the world, as well as more frequent and intense heat waves, intensified urban smog, and droughts and floods in our most productive agricultural regions. Global climate change represents a grave threat to the economic livelihood and security of all nations, but it also represents a significant opportunity for sustainable development that will benefit both current and future generations. We believe that ambitious domestic action by China and the United States is more critical than ever. China has given high priority to building an “Ecological Civilization” by striving for green, circular and low-carbon development. It has adopted proactive policies and measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The United States is implementing robust policies to promote renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency, and reduce emissions from transportation, buildings, and the power sector. Both countries recognize the need to work together to continue and build on these important efforts.

The Joint Statement on Climate Change[1] set in motion a process to take stock of our existing cooperative efforts as well as to identify significant new action initiatives. The United States and China established the Working Group to determine ways in which the two countries can strengthen cooperation on climate change through collaboration on technology, research, conservation, and alternative and renewable energy. The Working Group, chaired by National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua and U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, met several times for in-depth discussions with the active participation of relevant government ministries on both sides.

The Working Group’s findings and outcomes are presented below. The Working Group intends to coordinate ongoing implementation of the specific areas of cooperation identified in this Report, as well as the development of additional areas of cooperation for subsequent annual meetings of the S&ED. In addition, the Working Group intends to facilitate an enhanced policy dialogue.

Both sides believe that the kind of cooperative actions outlined in this Report will have substantial benefits. First, such actions can help each country grow and develop in sustainable ways. Significant co-benefits of investing in mitigation will also include enhanced energy security, reduced air pollution, improved public health, and conservation of important natural resources. Both sides will benefit from developing and deploying new environmental and clean energy technologies that promote economic prosperity and job creation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, both sides appreciate that advancing concrete action on climate change can serve as a pillar of our bilateral relationship, build mutual trust and respect, and pave the way for a stronger overall collaboration.

Third, we fully recognize that the United States and China play a significant role in global efforts to address climate change. Both sides agree that by enhancing our domestic actions and our bilateral climate cooperation, we can make an important contribution to the worldwide effort to confront climate change in a manner commensurate with the growing urgency of this global challenge.

Stocktaking of existing cooperation on climate change

Pursuant to the April 13, 2013 Joint Statement, the Working Group reviewed existing bilateral programs and initiatives related to climate change. This stocktaking exercise highlighted the breadth of these cooperative efforts, including under the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Enhance Cooperation on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment, as well as under the Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment. In recent years, exchanges and joint projects have taken place in a wide variety of areas, including renewable energy, building and industrial energy efficiency, clean transportation and electric vehicles, green buildings, sustainable cities, land use and forestry, scientific research, and technology research and development.

Important new activities pursuant to these existing programs are being announced in the context of the Strategic Dialogue, including six new EcoPartnerships, deployment of clean cookstoves in China, strengthened cooperation on scientific research and climate observations, and a bilateral Airport Sustainability Initiative.

New action initiatives

The Working Group recognized the potential for bold, new, collaborative action to combat climate change and to promote low carbon development. Drawing on the full expertise of our government agencies, the Working Group examined a number of areas and recommended five new action initiatives as a start. Taken together, these action initiatives will address some of the key drivers of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in our countries, including urbanization, transportation, industrial emissions, and coal-fired power generation. These initiatives also aim to produce significant co-benefits including cleaner air, energy savings, and water recovery.

1. Emission reductions from heavy-duty and other vehicles. The emissions from heavy-duty vehicles significantly degrade urban and regional air quality, while exacerbating global climate change. Light-duty vehicles also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, fuel use and air pollution. Efforts under this initiative will include:

A. Enhanced heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency standards: Each country will work domestically to implement policies and programs to improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles. The two countries will also deepen technical exchanges on efficiency standards for light- and heavy-duty vehicles. Relevant agencies include China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

B. Clean fuels and vehicle emissions control technologies: China will expeditiously implement its new low-sulfur standards and work toward adopting emission control technologies and enhancing vehicle emissions standards. The U.S. EPA will continue to implement its heavy-duty low-sulfur fuel and diesel standards and will provide technical support as appropriate for China’s domestic policies. Relevant agencies include China’s NDRC and Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. EPA.

C. Promotion of efficient, clean freight: Each country will work domestically to increase efficiency of road freight transport, with the U.S. EPA providing technical assistance as appropriate for implementation of green freight policies through the China Green Freight Initiative. Relevant agencies include China’s NDRC and Ministry of Transport, the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. DOT.

2. Smart Grids. Recognizing the fact that the integration of low carbon infrastructure, smart grid technologies, and clean electricity offers a powerful means to reduce carbon emissions in both the U.S. and China, both sides are to promote exchanges and cooperation on smart grid related technology and policy issues through workshops and dialogues. This work will build on collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) under the U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership and collaboration among the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the U.S. DOE, and China’s NEA on the Smart Grid Technical Exchange Program.

3. Carbon capture, utilization and storage. Together, the United States and China account for more than 40 percent of global coal consumption. Emissions from coal combustion in the electric power and industrial sectors can be significantly reduced through carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Building on the significant R&D collaborations between the United States and China, and to encourage the transition from research to commercial-scale demonstration, China and the United States will cooperate to overcome previous barriers to CCUS deployment by implementing several integrated CCUS projects in both countries. These demonstrations will allow for enhanced trade and commerce. Both sides will analyze CO2 “utilization” options, such as enhanced oil and gas recovery, as well as innovative options such as fresh water production, work collaboratively on capture and storage issues, such as demonstrating different capture technology choices and monitoring and measuring of CO2 storage sites, and will regularly convene government, academic, and industry representatives to examine the regulatory framework for promotion of CCUS in the United States and China. The United States and China will undertake a three-tiered effort to identify integrated project sites; develop joint scientific and technical monitoring programs to manage information and lessons learned from the projects; and explore business-to-business joint cooperation for scaling up CCUS deployment. These demonstrations will be complemented by a regular high-level policy dialogue that will take stock of technical progress and exchange experiences and policies for CCUS in the United States and China. Both countries can use the information gained through this cooperation to take up necessary policies for promoting CCUS demonstration at scale across major emitting sectors.

4. Collecting and managing greenhouse gas emissions data. Both countries place a high priority on comprehensive, accurate reporting of economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions data to track progress in reducing emissions and to support development and implementation of mitigation policies. The United States and China intend to work cooperatively on capacity building for collection and management of greenhouse gas emissions data, building on extensive experience in this area. Working together and with others, such as the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness, the United States and China can build models that may also benefit other countries. This expanded initiative will encompass two complementary activities: (a) technical and methodological assistance in data reporting and data quality management at the facility and/or enterprise level; and (b) sharing experiences in developing and maintaining an integrated system for management of such data. These activities will build upon existing cooperative work between the U.S. EPA and China’s NDRC and will include support for reporting methodology development, technical training and developing data collection and management design materials.

5. Energy efficiency in buildings and industry. The United States and China place a high priority on improving energy efficiency across industry and buildings, and recognize that there is significant scope for reducing emissions and costs through comprehensive efforts to improve energy efficiency while fostering economic growth. Indeed, work is already underway in this area under the Energy Efficiency Action Plan of the U.S.-China Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and the Environment. Both sides commit to intensify their efforts, with an initial enhanced focus on promoting energy efficiency of buildings. We will engage the private sector and other stakeholders in both the United States and China to further enhance existing work to significantly reduce energy use in buildings and industry in each country, including through the implementation of innovative financing methods. This work will include cooperation on: energy efficiency standards and testing for commercial, residential, and manufacturing buildings; identifying the top ten energy efficient technologies and best practices for industry; and further development of energy savings performance contracting in China. This enhanced work plan will be discussed at the next U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Forum, to be held in Washington, D.C. in September 2013.

Following the S&ED, the United States and China will cooperate through all relevant agencies to develop specific implementation plans for these five initiatives. These plans will clearly elaborate the roles of relevant agencies. The implementation plans will be completed by October 2013. Both sides will look to involve other stakeholders, where appropriate, in the development of these plans and in initiative implementation and will promptly initiate outreach to them.

The Working Group also intends to explore other possible areas for bilateral cooperation, including: (a) specific mechanisms for China and the United States to work together in assisting least developed countries, small island developing states, and African countries to build their capacity to address climate change; and (b) supporting appropriate cooperative efforts among our states, provinces, and cities as they develop sub-national carbon markets.

Enhanced policy dialogue

The Working Group emphasizes the importance of the climate change policy dialogue established under the 2009 MOU to Enhance Cooperation on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment and the role it has played in enhancing mutual understanding and exchange of ideas at various critical moments in the multilateral negotiation process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Recognizing the imperative of negotiating a robust and effective post-2020 climate agreement as well as the importance of our own constructive contributions for the success of such negotiations, the United States and China resolve to work closely with other countries in developing this agreement in the period prior to its scheduled completion in 2015. In this regard, we intend to enhance and deepen our policy dialogue on all aspects of this agreement through more frequent and intensified bilateral consultation at all levels.

The Working Group also recommends strengthening our bilateral dialogue related to domestic climate policy to enhance mutual understanding of each other’s domestic efforts in responding to climate change and to enhance our mutual confidence. This dialogue would include topics such as the role of regulation, lessons learned from sub-national developments on carbon trading and carbon pricing programs, and various other policy instruments to help promote low-carbon growth, increase energy security, and combat climate change.

Wherever possible, our policy dialogue should seek to include expertise from all sectors of society and provide incentives for engagement at the sub-national level as well as by business, research institutions, think tanks, academia, and civil society.

Additionally, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping made the announcement on June 8, 2013 that the United States and China agreed to work together and with other countries through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, while continuing to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol provisions for accounting and reporting of emissions. The Working Group will work effectively to carry forward this effort.

Role of the Working Group

The Working Group has already played an important role in advancing concrete collaboration and mutual trust between the two countries on climate change. The Working Group is intended to continue to serve as a high-level forum to coordinate the new action initiatives outlined in this Report, develop recommendations for new action initiatives and enhance the policy dialogue on the multilateral climate negotiations process as well as on domestic climate policy in the two countries. The Working Group will meet at least twice per year and report annually to the S&ED.

 

ANNEX 1

U.S.-CHINA JOINT STATEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE

April 13, 2013

The United States of America and the People's Republic of China recognize that the increasing dangers presented by climate change measured against the inadequacy of the global response requires a more focused and urgent initiative. The two sides have been engaged in constructive discussions through various channels over several years bilaterally and multilaterally, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process and the Major Economies Forum. In addition, both sides consider that the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding climate change constitutes a compelling call to action crucial to having a global impact on climate change.

The two countries took special note of the overwhelming scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change and its worsening impacts, including the sharp rise in global average temperatures over the past century, the alarming acidification of our oceans, the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, and the striking incidence of extreme weather events occurring all over the world. Both sides recognize that, given the latest scientific understanding of accelerating climate change and the urgent need to intensify global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, forceful, nationally appropriate action by the United States and China – including large-scale cooperative action – is more critical than ever. Such action is crucial both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.

In order to achieve this goal of elevating the climate change challenge as a higher priority, the two countries will initiate a Climate Change Working Group in anticipation of the 2013 Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). In keeping with the vision shared by the leaders of the two countries, the Working Group will begin immediately to determine and finalize ways in which they can advance cooperation on technology, research, conservation, and alternative and renewable energy. They will place this initiative on a faster track through the S&ED next slated to meet this summer. The Working Group will be led by Mr. Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change and Mr. Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman, the National Development and Reform Commission. The purpose of the Climate Change Working Group will be to make preparations for the S&ED by taking stock of existing cooperation related to climate change, and the potential to enhance such efforts through the appropriate ministerial channels; and by identifying new areas for concrete, cooperative action to foster green and low-carbon economic growth, including through the use of public-private partnerships, where appropriate. The Climate Change Working Group should include relevant government ministries and will present its findings to the Special Representatives of the leaders for the S&ED at their upcoming meeting.

Both sides also noted the significant and mutual benefits of intensified action and cooperation on climate change, including enhanced energy security, a cleaner environment, and more abundant natural resources. They also reaffirmed that working together both in the multilateral negotiation and to advance concrete action on climate change can serve as a pillar of the bilateral relationship, build mutual trust and respect, and pave the way for a stronger overall collaboration. Both sides noted a common interest in developing and deploying new environmental and clean energy technologies that promote economic prosperity and job creation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In light of previous joint statements, existing arrangements, and ongoing work, both sides agree that it is essential to enhance the scale and impact of cooperation on climate change, commensurate with the growing urgency to deal with our shared climate challenges.



[1] The text of the Joint Statement can be found in Annex 1.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.