America and China Expend Energy on Their Renewed Relationship

By Griep, Mark H. | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

America and China Expend Energy on Their Renewed Relationship


Griep, Mark H., Phi Kappa Phi Forum


The emergence of China as the world's second-largest economy means more than increased competition with the top-ranked United States. China's expansion also allows the financial superpowers to collaborate on clean energy. Figuring out how to work together to make the grade on environmental issues and money matters seems imperative, and inevitable, since these wealthiest countries consume the most energy of any nation on the planet.

In fact, they created the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center in November 2009. This five-year project, at a A minimum of $150 million split evenly, intends to "facilitate joint research and development of clean energy technologies by teams of scientists and engineers from the United States and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country," according to the White House.' Besides governmental entities, participants in the consortia include University of Michigan, West Virginia University, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from America and Tsinghua University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology from China.

The countries further established an "electric vehicles initiative" to "reduce oil dependence, cut greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic growth;" an "energy efficiency action plan" to set industry benchmarks for "buildings, industrial facilities, and consumer appliances;" and a "renewable energy partnership" to "develop roadmaps for wide-spread renewable energy deployment in both countries." (2) What's more, the nations will "promote co-operation on cleaner uses of coal," assess the potential of shale gas in China, and leverage the private sector in "a broad array of clean energy projects" there. (3)

Utilizing science and technology for political purposes is nothing new. The initial U.S.-China bilateral agreement, called Cooperation in Science and Technology, was signed in 1979 by U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping following normalization of relations between the countries. Although the U.S. had much less to gain than China at the time, the accord proved a diplomatic cornerstone to building better ties. The exchange spanned "fisheries, earth and atmospheric sciences, basic research in physics and chemistry, a variety of energy-related areas, agriculture, civil industrial technology, geology, health, and disaster research." (4) An extension was signed in January 2011.

Numerous other energy-related alliances exist. For instance, the Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technical Co-operation in the Field of Environment in October 2010 backed "collaborative efforts to tackle shared challenges posed by air pollution, water pollution, pollution from persistent organic pollutants and other toxic substances, hazardous and solid waste, and the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental law." (5) (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has assisted China in the cleanup of contaminants like dioxin and chlorofluorocarbon ever since.) And the U.S. Department of Energy and Chinese Academy of Sciences "signed an agreement in January 2011 to facilitate and promote cooperation in research and development in a broad range of energy sciences. …

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