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US and China forming Climate Change Working Group; say a more focused and urgent initiative required

13 April 2013

The US and China will initiate a Climate Change Working Group to determine and finalize ways in which they can advance cooperation on technology, research, conservation, and alternative and renewable energy. The Working Group was outlined in a joint statement on climate change issued by the two countries, which asserted that “the increasing dangers presented by climate change measured against the inadequacy of the global response requires a more focused and urgent initiative.”

Noting that the two countries have engaged in bilateral and multilateral discussions through various channels over the past several years, the statement added that “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 ever. Such action is crucial both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.“Joint Statement”

The initiation of the working group comes in anticipation of the 2013 Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). The two countries are putting the working group on a faster track through the S&ED next slated to meet this summer.

The Working Group will be led by Todd Stern, US Special Envoy for Climate Change and 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.

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.

—“Joint Statement”

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