China, the United States and technology cooperation on climate control
The U.S. and China are the world’s largest and second largest CO2 emitters, respectively, and to what extent the U.S. and China get involved in combating global climate change is extremely important both for lowering compliance costs of climate mitigation and adaptation and for moving international climate negotiations forward. While it is unavoidable that China will take on commitments at some specific point of time in the future, this paper has argued that the proposal for joint accession by the U.S. and China is not a way forward. For various reasons, such a proposal is in the U.S. interest, but is not in the interest of China. Given the U.S. political reality and institutional settings on the one hand and China’s over-riding concern about economic growth and poverty reduction on the other, the two countries are unlikely to take on emissions caps under an international regime, at least for the time being. Therefore, we need to explore the area where cooperation between the two countries to address climate change seems best. The research, development and deployment of clean technology is the area that is in the best interests of the two countries. The U.S. has adopted a technology-oriented approach to climate issues, and has launched the four multilateral initiatives on technology cooperation and the Asia Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate (APP). China has participated in all these U.S.-led initiatives, and is a partner to the APP. Strengthened technology cooperation between the two countries through these initiatives and the APP has led some tangible benefits. However, it should be pointed out that while technology is a critical ingredient in a climate policy package, efforts such as the APP can only be part of the solution. They alone cannot ensure that best available technologies are always deployed in the marketplace, and that new technologies will roll out at the pace and on the scale that we need. In order to have such technology-oriented approach to play a full role, we do need a coordinated policy framework agreed via the Kyoto Protocol or a follow-up regime or the parent United Nations Framework Convention.
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