President Barack Obama has made combating climate change a priority for his administration. Shortly after his election, he described the urgency of the situation in no uncertain terms:
“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.”
In order to meet this enormous challenge, the United States and the People's Republic of China will need to take action. Together, our 2 countries account for more than 40 percent of the world's emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants such as carbon dioxide and methane.
On March 16, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and Chinese Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua of the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China, met at the U.S. Department of State to discuss this challenge and to prepare for international climate negotiations, which are scheduled to take place in early December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Special Envoy Stern acknowledged the broad work that China is already doing to address climate change, including China’s goals to improve energy efficiency and increase the production of energy from renewable sources. The United States is committed to transforming its economy to a low-carbon model, both to spur economic growth and to sharply reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions. To avoid the catastrophic risk of climate change, however, both countries will have to scale up their efforts.
Stopping climate change, however, will require more than just action by the United States and China. Rather, the entire global community must work collaboratively to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that promotes sustainable economic growth, increases energy security, and helps nations deliver greater prosperity for their people. And the time to start is not tomorrow, or the day after, but today.