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The National Academies Summit on America’s Energy Future: Summary of a Meeting
First, once the United States has established a domestic mandatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it should ask China to adopt a program that is suited to its circumstances, Gallagher suggested.
The United States should consider forming a bilateral or multilateral investment fund to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon technologies in China, she continued. Such a fund could provide low- or no-interest loans, or even direct grants, for major new industrial facilities or power plants that use low-carbon technologies. The Chinese government also should pay into that fund. Such a fund would create a market for low-carbon technologies in China. It also would be advantageous for U.S. firms that have technologies to sell in China. This is not a politically popular idea, Gallagher admitted, “but I believe it is necessary.”
Energy technology collaborations between the two countries could be greatly increased, Gallagher stated. Joint research, development, and demonstration projects would be valuable for both countries and could bring the U.S. private sector into better contact with Chinese partners. For example, demonstrations of carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency technologies can be greatly expanded.
Finally, Gallagher pointed out, the United States could significantly bolster cooperative activities that are aimed at the collection and reporting of data in China and at policymaking, institution building, and enforcement of environmental policies.
Government officials in China are very interested in cooperating with other nations on energy issues, Gallagher observed. But political issues erect high barriers to such cooperation. As Schlesinger pointed out, U.S. politicians have many differences with government leaders in China. There are concerns about China’s military activities, its continual attempts to hack into U.S. defense computers, its record on stealing technology, Tibet, human rights, and women’s rights. As Schlesinger said, “I would hesitate—and I’m not the most timid person in the world—to go to the United States Congress and ask them to finance a reduction in the release of greenhouse gases from the People’s Republic of China.”