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Conversation between China and U.S. on global warming

We began with the meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, and I was frankly a little surprised he was so focused on US-China Clean Energy Cooperation, framing it in part as important for the US-China relationship, and then also as important for advancing the capabilities to reduce carbon emissions. He was so positive about that, that I really thought that this was a serious indication, a very serious Chinese interest.

Oh, I don't think we have obstacles. I think we've got very promising future, you know, it's interesting, I came here, and I spoke at a conference celebrating 30 years after normalization. Interestingly, the first agreement signed after normalization was a science and technology agreement.

There are numerous obstacles, some are political, some are technical, some are bureaucratic. The political obstacles, frankly, include the reality that there is distrust on both sides. Many in China view US efforts to engage China in carbon reduction as a US ploy to try to slow the rate of China's economic growth and prevent China from becoming a major power. Many in the US view China with suspicion, feeling that if the US moves forward rapidly on clean energy, China will use it for competitive advantage by having looser regulations in China, so the Chinese enterprises don't bear the cost of moving to lower carbon processes. So there is mutual suspicion to overcome on both sides. There're many problems in a more technical sphere. The regulatory environments in the two countries differ a great deal. Standards differ quite a bit. We are at different stages of developments. So in many ways, our economies don't have exactly the same needs, especially when you get down to details of technological advances.

All countries and particularly all countries that are major emitters of carbon dioxide have every interest to work altogether. We welcome working with India and China, we welcome them all working together. The situation is a lot different from Kyoto. I think there is a much wider recognition of the need to act in concert.

Well, I am not very optimistic about Copenhagen overall. If the test of success is the capacity to get a global agreement on targets, I don't think that's going to happen. At the same time, I think it is a mistake to make that the test of success. Unfortunately, many governments and many news media have done that.

As we approach Copenhagen, we do have an opportunity, and there is time. I know that many worry that the United States Senate may not pass legislation. Well, I believe they are wrong.

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