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July 17, 2009

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Nation lauded for green action

CHINA was taking "unprecedented action" to address global warming and reduce its energy intensity, increasing chances for a new climate change pact later this year, top United States officials said in Beijing yesterday.

Chinese leaders agreed unanimously that global warming was "a very serious problem," US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said after meeting Chinese officials, including Premier Wen Jiabao.

"I am greatly encouraged by what I saw on this trip," Chu told reporters.

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke also gave a strong endorsement of China's seriousness in reducing greenhouse gases.

"The Chinese are taking unprecedented action ," Locke said. "They are a model for developing countries around the world."

Locke and Chu, both Chinese-Americans, were in Beijing for talks aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries in fighting global warming.

Their trip came as Congress considers legislation to curb emissions in the US.

Chinese officials raised concerns during the meetings over an act recently passed by the US House of Representatives allowing the government to assess "carbon tariffs" on imports from countries that fail to meet US greenhouse gas standards, Locke said.

During the visit, the two countries launched a US$15-million joint research project aimed at creating more energy-efficient vehicles and buildings and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal.

Many experts believe cooperation between the two countries is essential for negotiations on a new climate treaty to succeed at a meeting this December in Copenhagen.

Chu said he was "optimistic" about the Copenhagen meeting, but gave no details about commitments or concessions by either side.

Climate concerns are expected to be high on the agenda when US President Barack Obama visits China for a summit meeting with President Hu Jintao later this year.

Chu said the two countries could achieve big greenhouse gas reductions by working together to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.


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