U.S. and China Discuss Climate Change

BEIJING, Nov. 18 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, on Tuesday pledged a “vigorous response” to climate change, saying they would work toward a global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In a joint statement, the two nations — the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases — said climate change was “one of the greatest challenges of our time.” They said they agreed that a “vigorous response is necessary and that international cooperation is indispensable in responding to this challenge.”

Standing next to Hu, Obama told reporters “there can be no solution to this challenge without the efforts of both China and the United States.”

The announcement, as Obama concludes his first state visit to China, comes less than three weeks before the U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It follows acknowledgement Sunday by Asia-Pacific leaders, including the United States, that a binding global accord on emissions is not reachable in Copenhagen next month.

Obama said that he and the Chinese president “agreed to work toward a successful outcome in Copenhagen.”

“Our aim there, in support of what Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark is trying to achieve, is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations, and one that has immediate operational effect,” Obama said.

But it was not clear if Obama meant that a binding legal agreement could still be achieved in Copenhagen.

The U.S.-China joint statement said both countries “believe that, while striving for final legal agreement, an agreed outcome at Copenhagen should … include emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.”

Obama and Hu also announced seven joint initiatives to strengthen cooperation between the United States and China on clean energy, including a joint clean-energy research center, with a $150 million budget to be equally split between the two countries. Other joint initiatives announced include cooperation on energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean coal, electric vehicles and shale gas.

While the joint initiatives are “positive steps” that both countries are taking on the ground to address climate change, “more political will is needed from both leaders to ensure a successful outcome at Copenhagen,” said Yang Ailun, who heads the Climate and Energy Campaign for Greenpeace China.

But WWF’s China director for the Global Climate Initiative, Hou Yanli, said Obama and Hu had “greatly renewed our hopes for a strong and comprehensive deal at Copenhagen.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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