US, CHINA TO INITIATE CLIMATE CHANGE WORKING GROUP TO PREPARE 2013 STRATEGIC-ECONOMIC DIALOGUE

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14 april 2013

[4C note: The following email, containing a U.S. State Department press release and a Beijing statement by the U.S. and China, signals a possible joint position this year on the coming negotiations for an international treaty on climate change. It was sent to the Climate Action Network mailing list by Alden Meyer, who represents the Union of Concerned Scientists in CAN. Following the email, we copy an initial press reaction.]

FYI -- see the statement released today in Beijing by the U.S. and China; below that, I've pasted in a State Department media note on the July 8-12 meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Clearly, this could have major implications, depending on how it is followed up on.
Alden

From: Haq, Nayyera [mailto:HaqN@state.gov]
Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2013 08:01 PM
Subject: US-China Declaration on Climate Change Cooperation

Announced April 13 in Beijing -- the US and China will initiate a Climate Change Working Group in anticipation of the 2013 Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED).

Full text of joint declaration attached.

Joint U.S.-China Statement on Climate Change

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 eveer. 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.


U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to be Held Week of July 8-12, 2013, in Washington, DC (updated)

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC

April 13, 2013
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WASHINGTON �  The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced that the fifth meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) will be held in Washington, DC, during the week of July 8-12, 2013. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, as President Obama’s Special Representatives, will be joined for the Dialogue by their respective Chinese co-chairs, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice Premier Wang Yang, along with members of the Chinese delegation and their U.S. colleagues. 

The Dialogue will focus on addressing the challenges and opportunities that both countries face on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global areas of immediate and long-term economic and strategic interest, and will follow up on discussions Secretary Lew had with China’s new leadership in March and Secretary Kerry had in Beijing April 13-14. 

Further details regarding the precise dates, press credentialing and press opportunities will be made available in the weeks ahead.

PRN: 2013/0411

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U.S., China make critical deal on climate change

by William Marsden in Canada.Com, April 14, 2013

WASHINGTON – The world’s two biggest polluters have signed what could be a groundbreaking agreement and “call to action” on the fight against escalating climate change.

The United States and China announced Sunday they would accelerate action to reduce greenhouse gases by advancing cooperation on technology, research, conservation, and alternative and renewable energy.

But while the listed actions sound relatively mundane, the words that accompanied the announcement were not. In a joint and quite powerful statement on the dangers of climate change, the two sides said they “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 statement recognizes an “urgent need to intensify global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… is more critical than ever.” It goes on to say, “Such action is crucial both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.”

The two sides state that manmade climate change is having “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.”

Alden Meyer, spokesperson for the influential Union of Concerned Scientist in the United States, said the agreement “is potentially a very significant development, coming as it does from the world’s two biggest economies and greenhouse gas emitters.”

He said that by “pledging to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world, the joint statement certainly raises expectations that both the U.S. and China will move more forcefully to confront the threat of climate change.” He added, “The proof of the pudding, of course, will be in the details.”

These details will be worked out at a Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the two countries the July.

The agreement could impact Canada and the growth of the oilsands where companies predict their expansion will triple their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This expansion is largely dependent on the building of pipelines such as the Keystone XL to Texas, which remains a hotly contested issue in the U.S. where it has become the symbol of the struggle for strong action on climate change. Public hearings on the pipeline open in Nebraska Thursday.

If the U.S. and China significantly ratchet up the level of climate action, “that would give the lie to the Harper government’s claims that its policies are in line with those of other developed countries,” Meyer said. “We’ll have to see how this plays out, of course. Talk is cheap, but the US-China statement, in particular, heightens expectations for something significant later this year.”

The U.S-China statements contrast sharply with those made by Revenue Minister Joe Oliver who claimed last week that “some scientists” say action on climate change is “not urgent” and that “there is no problem.”

The agreement was reached during a visit to China this past weekend by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been a strong advocate of urgent action.

Equally significant was a similar deal announced, also this weekend, with Japan.

The deals with China and Japan reflect an action plan by U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern, which he outlined in a paper published in 2007.

Stern’s plan was to create a sort of round table of the world’s worst regional polluters to chart climate change action thereby avoiding the unwieldy geopolitics of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This group would essentially impose a global deal on the rest of the world. In addition to Japan, the U.S. and China, these countries would include the EU, Brazil, India and South Africa.

Bilateral deals with these countries are already in place, but the question is whether they will be ramped up to the level of the Chinese and Japanese deals.


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