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President Barack Obama has made combating climate change a priority for his
administration. Shortly after his election, he described the urgency of the
situation in no uncertain terms:Now is the time to confront this
challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer
an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.
In order to meet this enormous challenge, the United States and the People's
Republic of China will need to take action. Together, our two countries account
for more than 40 percent of the world's emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants
such as carbon dioxide and methane.
On March 16, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and Chinese Vice
Chairman Xie Zhenhua [see-eh chen-hwa] of the National Development and Reform
Commission of the People's Republic of China, met at the U.S. Department of
State to discuss this challenge and to prepare for international climate
negotiations, which are scheduled to take place in early December in
Special Envoy Stern acknowledged the broad work that China is already doing to
address climate change, including China's goals to improve energy efficiency
and increase the production of energy from renewable sources. The United States
is committed to transforming its economy to a low-carbon model, both to spur
economic growth and to sharply reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions. To
avoid the catastrophic risk of climate change, however, both countries will
have to scale up their efforts.
Stopping climate change, however, will require more than just action by the
United States and China. Rather, the entire global community must work
collaboratively to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that
promotes sustainable economic growth, increases energy security, and helps
nations deliver greater prosperity for their people. And the time to start is
not tomorrow, or the day after, but today.