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Cantwell: U.S.-China Cooperation Will Combat Climate Change

Location: Washington, DC

Cantwell: U.S.-China Cooperation Will Combat Climate Change

Today, United States Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) spoke to the importance of U.S.-China cooperation on climate change during an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Joining Cantwell at the event was the vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, Minister Xie Zhenhua.

In her remarks, Cantwell noted that U.S.-China clean energy cooperation can positively impact climate change, and called for the U.S. and China to work together to eliminate tariffs around the world on exports of clean energy and environmental goods and services. As a first step, she called for the creation in both China and the U.S. of clean energy free trade zones. She also called for the U.S. and China to conclude a comprehensive bilateral agreement on clean energy cooperation. This agreement could spur a joint financing mechanism for research and development or joint large-scale demonstration projects or joint energy efficiency efforts.

Today, she introduced two resolutions to further these goals.

[Cantwell's remarks as prepared for delivery follow below]

"Thank you, Jessica Matthews, for that kind introduction.

"And thanks to the Global Environment Institute at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for putting together this important forum.

"It is an honor to be able to speak to this distinguished audience, and help welcome Minister Xie to America on his first visit as China's top climate negotiator.

"Minister, I know you have been to America many times before, but I hope on this trip you will sense the new spirit here in our nation's capital. We are ready to sit down with China as a friend AND partner, to work together to solve the many challenges that face both our great nations.

"We all know that the U.S. and China are the world's largest producers, consumers, and importers of energy.

"Together our two great nations account for 36 percent of world primary energy use, and release 41 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

"And both of our nations have become increasingly dependent on foreign sources of oil, mostly from volatile regions of the world including Sudan and Iran. We are also the largest consumers of coal, which produces the majority of electricity in both our countries.

"And the U.S. and China both need to find ways to meet strong future demands for electricity. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), to match demand China needs to invest $3.7 trillion dollars by 2030 to build over 1,300 gigawatts of new electricity generating capacity. That's more than the total current installed capacity in the United States.

"I understand China is planning to invest $79 billion between 2007 and 2012 with the goal of generating 1,000 gigawatts. That's enough to power 1,000 cities the size of Seattle!

"The good news is that clean energy technologies can provide solutions for both our nations.

"One way to achieve that aim is to recognize that the United States and China have complementary strengths and goals.

"Generally speaking, the U.S. enjoys a lead in terms of basic science research, high-tech manufacturing, and an established process to commercialize research breakthroughs.

"China has its own substantial technical capabilities and a better understanding of what technologies work in the developing world.

"China is often able to manufacture products more rapidly and cheaply than the United States. A robust partnership between the U.S. and China has the potential to catalyze development and drive down the costs of a diverse array of clean energy technologies.

"I like to call this strategy "co-opetition" - where we agree to work cooperatively in some areas knowing we will compete in others.

"Rather than competing with China for ever-shrinking foreign energy reserves, we could combine market opportunities and turbo charge promising nascent clean energy technologies.

"Looking at the possibilities, it's crystal clear that clean energy investment will create jobs today and in the future.

"After all, energy is a six trillion dollar annual market. And this number is only going to grow.

"It is the mother of all markets and the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.

"In fact, many investors see "green" technology as revolutionizing the world the way the Internet changed it nearly 20 years ago.

"And by the way, the Internet was only a trillion dollar industry.

"Clean energy technologies can transform our economy the same way and create the same kinds of wealth.

"According to a recent McKinsey report, the market for electric vehicles in North America, Europe and Asia could reach $120 billion annually by 2030.

"The global solar market could reach $100 billion in 2013, up from about $33 billion today.

"And if we make the right energy choices together, both the U.S. and China will benefit from these expansions.

"Already the new Obama Administration has signaled they are committed to deepening and expanding the U.S. - China energy and environmental cooperation started by the Bush administration through the U.S. - China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED), as well as the ten year Energy and Environment Cooperation Framework.

"Secretary Clinton's decision to visit a Chinese gas-fired power plant with advanced GE technology demonstrates her commitment to making U.S. - China clean energy cooperation a top priority. She has indicated that climate change will be a "central issue" in U.S. foreign policy.

"And I am proud of the private sector dialogue on U.S. - China clean energy cooperation that has been established with the leadership of former U.S. Trade Representatives Carla Hills, Mickey Kantor, and others.

"Just last month, business and government leaders from the U.S. and China met in Seattle to continue these discussions.

"I know the Obama administration values ongoing private sector efforts and believes the private sector has an important role to play in finding energy solutions and driving innovation that is needed to reach a clean energy future.

"So where should we go from here?

"Both of our countries have moved to increase investments in clean energy technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"There are three things we should do additionally. First, we need to bring down tariffs on clean energy and environmental goods and services.

"Hundreds of billions of dollars in exports of clean energy and environmental goods and services are needed. But around the globe, tariffs on clean energy and environmental goods and services can be as high as 35 percent.

"To further that effort, today I introduced a Senate resolution calling on the U.S. to work with China to eliminate tariffs on clean energy and environmental exports.

"I know that it can take a considerable amount of time to change trade policy, an interim step could involve establishing special "clean energy free trade zones" in both China and the United States.

"Clean energy free trade zones could serve to:

Stimulate economic growth in this critical industry,

Build business and government relationships between our countries, and

Illustrate how eliminating tariffs can accelerate both trade and the development and deployment of the latest clean energy technologies.

"We should work together on a larger U.S.-China bilateral agreement on clean energy cooperation.

"Last month, I wrote to President Obama along with 14 other Senators from both parties, including Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, urging him to establish a cooperative, mutually-beneficial bilateral agreement between the United States and China.

"This agreement could spur a joint financing mechanism for research and development or joint large-scale demonstration projects or joint energy efficiency efforts. I look forward to working with my other colleagues, the President, and his cabinet to make this agreement a reality.

"If we put our heads together and combine the resources of our public and private sectors, our labs, our think tanks, and our universities… we can harness the power of good ideas and innovation.

"By taking the first steps down that road together, by focusing on what we can agree to now - clean energy solutions-- we can show the world a global agreement on climate change is not only possible, but mutually beneficial.

"So thank you again Minister Xie for visiting us. It shows both our great nations understand we have a special responsibility to find a new way forward on clean energy and climate change and that we are ready and willing to get to work.

"Thank you."

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