Sun, Mar 01, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Climate work could strengthen US-Chinese ties: expert


With climate change emerging as a key issue for both the US and China, the two countries have a new platform for cooperation and an opportunity to strengthen their often contentious relationship, a leading China expert said on Thursday.

Kenneth Lieberthal, a China scholar and former White House adviser, laid out a blueprint of different ways the two countries can collaborate on global warming in a report he co-authored for the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington.

“The US clearly wants to increase the level, intensity, transparency and consistency of its dialogue with China,” he told a forum at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “Climate change will be an important part of that strategic dialogue.”

The world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases — accounting for an estimated 40 percent of the global total — have long been at odds over how to handle the issue of climate change.

Lieberthal, who served as a top Asia adviser during the Clinton administration, said a key part of that effort will be finding ways for the US to work effectively with China, which has overtaken the US on carbon dioxide emissions, a leading cause of global warming.

If the two major players can agree on ways to reduce carbon emissions, “our cooperation increases the chances that a global agreement will be reached,” Lieberthal said.

The Brookings report recommends co-development of technology, building a framework for energy cooperation and a US-China summit highlighting clean energy.

In a relationship that has been dominated by more contentious issues of security, trade and human rights, climate change can also serve as a less divisive goal.

“If it’s a long-term pillar of cooperation, it may help reduce the current mutual distrust in each of our governments,” Lieberthal said.

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