Sec. Kerry: Getting The U.S.-China Climate Partnership Right


Secretary of State John Kerry

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang listens as Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. (Credit: AP/Evan Vucci)

John Kerry is the 68th U.S. Secretary of State.

President Nixon once changed the world with a single handshake on a Beijing tarmac, beginning a new relationship with China.

Today, it’s not just our geopolitics that are changing — it’s the earth itself. And it requires a new partnership with China to meet the challenge.

Nothing less than a transformation of the way we use and produce energy will be enough to tackle the urgent threat of climate change.

Of course, the future has a way of humbling those who try to predict it with any certainty. But here’s what the science is telling us: if we fail to connect the dots — if we fail to take action — the impacts of climate change will become unmanageable at catastrophic levels.

That’s why this week, at the Major Economies Forum, Todd Stern, our Special Envoy for Climate Change, carried a message of the need to make potent progress both in terms of concrete action now, and in terms of developing a new global agreement for 2015. Plain and simple, all nations have a responsibility to make near-term emissions reductions. The costs of inaction get more and more expensive the longer we wait — and the longer we wait, the less likely we are to avoid the worst and leave future generations with a sustainable planet.

We all know China and the United States have unique national circumstances. But we also have a special role. Together, we account for more than 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. While that’s a truly staggering reality, it also means our two nations can make a profound difference. The decisions we make today — right now — will determine the fate of our planet not just for our children and grandchildren but for generations to come.

So here’s the bottom line: For better or worse, the eyes of the world are upon us. Either we create the necessary momentum to galvanize a global response, or else we risk a global catastrophe. Either we set an example for the world, or the world will make an example out of us. After all, Mother Nature knows no boundaries.

The simple fact is that we have to act — and we can.

When I visited Beijing in April on my first trip to Asia as Secretary of State, we agreed to launch the Climate Change Working Group. We’re elevating our climate concerns to a new level in our bilateral relationship, because no nation can take on this global challenge alone — nor should they.

We’re starting to making progress. Our two nations just met again at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, where our senior officials discuss the most pressing issues in the bilateral relationship. After roughly three months of hard work since our meeting in April, we agreed to accelerate our bilateral climate cooperation by approving five new joint initiatives to curb climate change. This is an important step forward.

While many measures — large and small — will be needed across our governments, two areas of focus will be reducing emissions from coal use and heavy and light-duty vehicles.

The United States and China are responsible for around 40 percent of global coal consumption. What’s more, heavy-duty vehicles are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in the United States and account for around half of transportation fuel consumed in China.

The pie is large enough for America and China to grow green together, even as we significantly reduce emissions in both these sectors.

We’ve agreed to work together to overcome barriers to carbon capture, use, and storage through several integrated demonstration projects. We’ve also agreed to work together on fuel efficiency standards, promote cleaner fuels and vehicle emissions control technologies, and increase efficiency in clean freight.

We’re also taking action to promote energy efficiency. We’re combining forces to promote energy efficiency in buildings, which account for over 30 percent of energy use in both countries. We’re assisting China in improving greenhouse gas data collection and management, the foundation for any effective climate policies. And, together, we’re promoting the growth of smart grids that are more resilient, more efficient, and capable of incorporating more renewable energy and distributed generation.

These climate measures will have all the more significance if we can help China diversify its fuel mix away from coal. That’s why our energy dialogue focused on helping China take the commercial steps needed to increase the use of natural gas. In the United States, our gas revolution has helped drive down our carbon emissions to their lowest levels in 16 years as we shift to renewable and lower carbon fuels. We stand ready to help China do the same as we pioneer the clean technologies of the future.

The opportunity is immense. And if we get it right, we will inspire more than 1.6 billion Americans and Chinese citizens to take ownership of this challenge, and to prove to the world that we can rise to meet it together.

And guess what? Putting the world on a path to a clean energy future will create millions of new jobs right here in America and around world.

Why? Because it will unleash market forces that reflect the very best of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of our two nations. Remember: we’re talking about a global energy market that’s valued at $6 trillion with four billion users worldwide — growing to nine billion in 40 years. And the fastest growing segment of that market is clean and renewable energy.

The discussions at the S&ED have continued to knit together a collaboration between our two countries, that has enormous potential, if we get it right. By acting to address climate change, we can secure America’s place — and China’s — in the energy economy of the future. This isn’t about who wins and who loses. Revolutionizing the way we use and produce energy can be a “win, win, win” — a win for America, a win for China, and win for the world. Let’s seize the opportunity.


This post has been updated for clarity.

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53 Responses to Sec. Kerry: Getting The U.S.-China Climate Partnership Right

  1. John McCormick says:

    Secretary Kerry,

    It is such a pleasure to see you joining Joe Romm’s blog and using your skills to bring the US and China onto the same page regarding climate change.

    This has been a long time coming but it likely had to wait for the elections in both countries.

    China’s rare earth metals export regulations should be included in your discussions.

    And since this huge step is still a confidence building measure, may I add another topic for discussion.

    As you are aware, Pakistan recently issued its National Climate Change Policy; a product four years in the making.

    Pakistan will need a great deal of support, training and encouragement to implement the Policy and grow it out to meet Pakistan’s capacity to survive climate change.

    Pakistan contributes about .8 percent of global CO2 emissions and is one of the most vulnerable countries.

    Furthermore, the 18th Amenment to Pakistan’s Constitution shifted implementation of the NCCP and many other vital services and responsibilities to the 5 Provinces.

    Numerous fora and reports point to the greater challenge facing Pakistan because the Provinces have limited resources, intellectual infrastructure and material to take up that task. Yet, the Country has many highly talented scientists and skill workers.

    China and the United States can approach Pakistan’s Climate Change Division, Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies with offerings to discuss the kind of support the Provinces will need.

    What better way to reach out the hands of China and America to the 186 million Pakistanis than to lend your scientists, equipment, training and whatever as a pledge to help Pakistan save itself from disaster.


    John McCormick

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    I always liked Kerry, and met him once in DC in 1998. He was a great choice to be Secretary of State, and is in position to accomplish big things.

    These remarks didn’t go far enough, though. First he brought up the carbon capture and storage fantasy. Wind is cheaper than new coal already, and even if CCS worked, it would add enough to coal’s price (about 30%) to make it noncompetitive. So why even talk about it?

    The other implication is that we will go from coal to natural gas, something that the horizontally integrated fossil fuel companies are working hard toward. Included in this effort are fully developed campaigns to sabotage solar in the Southwest desert, through frivolous land use appeals. If we go from coal to natural gas, the only thing we will have accomplished is creating toxic watersheds. Emissions will change little if at all.

    John, you’re a good man. Please take it to the next level.

  3. BobbyL says:

    Glad to see the US is telling China they need to reduce emissions in the near term. The science seems to indicate that is necessary. The Chinese government is probably concerned that such reductions could result in the Communist Party losing power because of anger about reduced economic growth which could mean more stalling on their side. Let’s hope they are willing to take the political risk and reduce emissions soon.

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    So Then

    I appreciate this post from John Kerry, and I agree with most of it, not all.

    Let’s consider some of the implications of what he says.

    First, he says this:

    “Nothing less than a complete and collaborative transformation of the way we use and produce energy will be enough to tackle the urgent threat of climate change.”

    One of the many implications of this is that we must do everything we can to make darn sure that the next president, and thus the next person we nominate for president and elect, must be someone who is deeply committed to leading the U.S. to address climate change with the verve and urgency implied by Kerry’s comments and the urgency of the situation. Once again, we should vet Hillary Clinton with respect to climate change BEFORE we (in effect) nominate her or take her nomination as a given. The point is an obvious one.

    Kerry writes:

    “The decisions we make today — right now — will determine the fate of our planet not just for our children and grandchildren but for generations to come.”

    And he continues (later):

    “So here’s the bottom line: For better or worse, the eyes of the world are upon us. Either we create the necessary momentum to galvanize a global response, or else we risk a global catastrophe. Either we set an example for the world, or the world will make an example out of us. After all, Mother Nature knows no boundaries.”

    These comments have two implications, among others: First, again, it’s crucial that we show leadership, and thus it’s crucial that we have a leader who will lead. My point should not be understood, at all, to suggest that only our elected leader(s) should lead, and the rest of us should just sit there and follow. All of us should help lead and also do whatever else we can. But, among other people, it is crucial that the president must lead, forthrightly, proactively (after all, that’s what leadership is), wisely, energetically, and effectively.

    Second, Kerry speaks of setting an “example for the world”. He speaks of “creat[ing] the necessary momentum to galvanize a global response.” I say that Secretary Kerry and, more importantly, President Obama should consider the Keystone XL decision in that very light. There is no possible way that approving Keystone XL would help set an “example for the world” that would help “create the necessary momentum to galvanize a global response.” Indeed, approving Keystone XL would set a very bad, and obvious, bad example for the world that would do a great deal to continue to undermine the sort of credibility we would need to create the necessary momentum to galvanize a global response. The point is obvious.

    Two final thoughts:

    First, clearly, Secretary Kerry should (behind closed doors) encourage Todd Stern to retire and accept his resignation. Do it in a way that is respectful and that applauds his efforts (if you like) and his accomplishments, limited as they’ve been. But do it in any case. Stern has been around far too long, during periods of inaction and deeply insufficient action, during periods when the U.S. was the holdout and, in essence, more part of the problem than part of the solution. Clearly, Todd Stern does not have, at this point, the freshness and credibility (with the public, and with the international community) to do what it will take from this point forward, at least if Kerry is serious about what he writes.

    Second, what is all this about natural gas, still? Joe, scientifically and technically speaking, there is an answer to the question of whether the life-cycle, all-accounted-for GHG emissions of natural gas are substantially lower than those of average coal-burning plants. When I say “substantially”, I mean enough so that we can be confident that the emissions are substantially-enough lower than they otherwise would be (with coal) to justify all the investment and the time involved, and the delay involved, if we commit to natural gas as a bridge fuel and then only later, presumably, switch to non-fossil fuel sources of energy. What is the latest, credible answer to that question? Because if it is not true, scientifically and technologically, that natural gas provides substantial overall GHG-reduction benefits, taking all factors into account, then the continued support of natural gas, and cheerleading for it, by politicians will do much more harm than good. So which is it?



  5. Sasparilla says:

    Nicely said Mike. I hope they actually get somewhere instead of just talking, but talking is the first step.

  6. Zimzone says:

    Public conversations are a starting point and this is a good speech.

    But…it’s just a speech.

    Actions speak louder than words and as long as we let climate deniers dominate the majority of media time, all we’re doing is talking.

    The real dilemma is how to get any green legislation through the Republican House (of cards.)

  7. Ben Lieberman says:

    Dear Secretary Kerry,

    Thanks you for your commitment to making real progress in addressing the climate crisis and to your efforts to work with China.

    To make the most convincing case for global action, we also need to show that we cannot continue to burn all carbon sources we can get our hands on and that means rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline once and for all.

  8. Jeff Huggins says:

    Seeking Clarification

    Joe, did Secretary Kerry write this piece *as* a Guest Post, *for* Climate Progress, or is this a speech or essay or op-ed by Kerry being re-used here as a guest post?

    Either way is perfectly fine, of course, but I just want to get clear on which of these is the case, mainly because I’m interested in whether Secretary Kerry (or at least his people) will be likely to read the comments here.



  9. John McCormick says:

    Jeff, I agree.

  10. fj says:

    There is nothing wrong with countries unilaterally going net zero at wartime speed as considerable benefits come with this advanced design practice providing significant advantages over those that dont.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bobby, I would hope that Kerry would have more sense than tell China to do anything, that is no way to produce cooperation, ME

  12. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bobby, I would hope that Kerry would have more sense than tell China to do anything, that is no way to produce cooperation, ME

  13. fj says:

    It is great having Kerry address the Climate Progress crowd but for this reason and others including those mentioned in the comments, he can do better.

  14. Doug Grandt says:

    Right on, Jeff. Agree on all points.

    Furthermore, if we are serious about achieving the reductions that James Hansen et al suggest are required (a 5-6% per annum decline in carbon-based fuel combustion) then the conversation must extend beyond efficiency and substituting gas for coal. In essence, the blue and red curves on the chart shown at demand we retire and shut down all of the refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants, and every carbon-fueled commercial and residential furnace, oven, boiler, heater, etc. by mid-century. These are finite numbers, and the monthly targets can be easily calculated. By focusing on dismantling the “culprits” we will in effect create a carbon surcharge by allocating the cost to remove the infrastructure over the remaining volume of fossil fuels, driving the price up just like the carbon fee would.

    So then … I believe Secretary of State Kerry has called for too little (insufficient solutions) using phrases that are only so much strong rhetoric … We gotta do better!

    Cheers! (from Lincoln NE)

  15. Doug Grandt says:

    More on the approach suggested above at and (these collections of letters overlap as many are addressed to both Barack and Rex.

  16. BobbyL says:

    “Todd Stern, our Special Envoy for Climate Change, carried a message of the need to make potent progress both in terms of concrete action now, and in terms of developing a new global agreement for 2015. Plain and simple, all nations have a responsibility to make near-term emissions reductions.” In other words, that means China needs to sign on in 2015 to start reducing emissions soon. I hope Mr. Stern is making that message crystal clear.

  17. Doug Grandt says:

    Hoping DOS staff are monitoring.

  18. Paul Klinkman says:

    Here’s what’s actually happening on the ground, although apparently it’s not happening in people’s heads:

    Our government sells the coal, dirt cheap, to our government’s friends. The Chinese government’s friends burn the coal.

    Our government could charge more for the coal and it wouldn’t affect the American people one whit. The Chinese government could charge more for the coal pollution obliterating their country. But then our respective governments wouldn’t have those particular respected friends.

    I know that Secretary of State Kerry wants to face climate reality and I wish him the best of luck in doing so. This may not be the ringing endorsement that he wanted, but he needs to be sympathetic to my personal plight. I’ve been putting up with political fantasyland for years.

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    It means the USA needs to sign on too, on equitable terms. The US has played fast and loose in the COPS to the dismay, and anger, of many. It’s time for genuine negotiations in good faith, ME

  20. Jeff Huggins says:

    The Very Best Thing He (Kerry) Could Do

    All things considered, the very best thing that John Kerry could do for the country, for democracy, and for the world would be to run for the Democratic nomination for president, regardless of whether he wins the nomination or not.

    This is not meant to be an endorsement for Kerry to win the nomination, although I like him a lot (but I also like Elizabeth Warren and a few other potential nominees). Instead, I think it would be a great thing for the country, for democracy, and ultimately for the world if Democrats/progressives could have a great collection of would-be nominees to choose from — Warren, Kerry, Clinton, Biden, and even Gore — and if those candidates would discuss the issues and their ideas seriously and with civility, allowing us all to learn from that process, hear about the key issues, vet each candidate, and pick the absolute best nominee who suits the times and can provide the necessary leadership regarding climate change.

    These candidates would, ideally, enter the race — or rather, offer themselves up as potential leaders — with the aim of saying what needs to be said, sharing their best thinking and ideas, and making sure the Democratic public has an excellent set of potential choices, NOT with the aim of winning the nomination at all costs. A great collection of serious would-be candidates, discussing the issues and ideas seriously, with utmost respect for each other, would not only be great for the cause of addressing climate change (and thus ultimately good for the U.S. and the world) but would also be great for democracy itself and good for politics in the U.S.

    But CAN politicians put the country ahead of themselves, by entering the process in order to discuss and debate the issues civilly, share ideas, and so forth, without needing to win and without destroying the process as they strive to win at all costs? Could Kerry do it? Elizabeth Warren? Joe Biden? Hillary Clinton? Al Gore? I think they could, if they tried. Call me naive if you like, but it would be great if they could. The cause of addressing climate change would benefit, democracy itself would benefit, and thus the U.S. and ultimately the world would benefit.

    Now, I know that this might seem to run against the conventional wisdom of party politics, where (it seems) that many people don’t actually want to discuss many of the issues, don’t want several excellent candidates from which to choose, want to favor a front-runner (“it’s so-and-so’s turn”) from the beginning, and where back-room deals to not run, or to run next time, are often made. But conventional thinking — especially conventional, selfish, political thinking — is precisely what is NOT needed at this pivotal time. What is needed is forthright, responsible, honest, brave, refreshing change!

    So, with this context, I would hope that Secretary Kerry would choose to run for the nomination, along with V.P. Biden, Senator Warren, Hillary Clinton, and also Al Gore. I hope they all run in a way that puts the country ahead of their own ambitions. Could they do it? Can the Democratic party establishment, and party leadership, even “get” the great benefits that could result from this? Or are conventional (bad) paradigms so strong that most people would see this as crazy-thinking?

    I’m serious.



  21. Doug Grandt says:

    Excellent idea, Jeff!

    . . . SRSLY! . . .
    Speak out now
    . Respectfully .
    . . Seriously . .
    . . . Loudly . . .
    . . . .You! . . . .

  22. Dirk Maas says:

    It’s always nice to hear a high-ranking US official speak about climate change with something other than sarcasm or contempt. I know that this is only a speech, and doesn’t go as far as some of us would like, but it’s still a step in the right direction. Perhaps the step was not bigger because Kerry is being diplomatic, and hoping to generate some reluctant support from moderate Republicans. One of the arguments against the US taking unilateral action to reduce emissions has been that it wouldn’t make much of a difference, other than to hurt the US economy. Do any of you think that this bilateral work with China weakens that argument, or renders it moot, and may peel some Republicans away from the party line?

  23. BobbyL says:

    Obviously the US needs to sign on. And I am sure they will if an agreement can be worked out. They signed on to the Kyoto Protocol and actually it was Al Gore who made it happen when it looked like the negotiations were about to fall apart. Of course Congress will not ratify any agreement unless China signs on so both countries have to sign. I think if US and China sign all countries will also.

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    By John Kerry, Guest Blogger

    Let’s hope the brain that went wind surfing in 2004, is out smarting the oldest culture on Earth.

  25. Jay Alt says:

    The Chinese Communist Party sees wide discontent and anger at the awful pollution in cities and countryside. They allow expression as protests and acts, when it is against local officials. But CCP want to ensure that they don’t become the target of public anger for failing to clean things up. Their government is run by technocrats with no illusions that AGW is a real threat, especially to SE China.
    Brian Fagen features some of Shanghai’s challenges in a chapter of his new book- The Attacking Ocean- the past, present and future of rising sea levels.
    e.g. The Three Gorges dam on the Yangzte cuts sediment discharge into the delta, worsening subsidence and coastal erosion. Agricultural land is becoming saltier. Fresh water levels drop from excess withdrawal, causing shortages. Levees 8-9 meters high keep sea out but pollution in, etc. It is a tough set of complex and interconnected problems for the Chinese to address.
    But address them they will. They will not follow the path of N. Carolina legislators and proclaim that human causes not be mentioned while planning for Sea Level Rise.

  26. Jay Alt says:

    My earlier online searchs indicate the piece is exclusive to CP. Congrats to JR and his fine staff.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Lecturing the Chinese over what they must do is, in my opinion, unwarranted arrogance and will not go down well in China. Luckily the Chinese are used by now to politely laughing off these hectoring assertions of superiority. And the rubbish about the Chinese Government ‘losing power’ is just wishful thinking. The Chinese system has delivered the greatest economic leap in history and the greatest rise in living standards for the most people in history. Why would the Chinese people overthrow that success? And to be like, who exactly? Surely not the USA where median wages have stagnated for forty years, tens of millions live in poverty despite working full-time, and debt and inequality are unprecedented and growing. I know which country I think is in far greater peril of massive social dislocation, and it is not China.

  28. Doug Grandt says:

    Mr. Kerry, what has changed since December 22, 2012? This is an excerpt from one commentator’s view entitled John Kerry’s Climate Change Statements Show Force & Nuance at

    “We no longer have the luxury of engaging in a debate that does not lead to action. We must put an end—an immediate end—to any discussion other than the one that will lead us forward. We simply have no choice but to face the facts, regardless of how unsettling they are. This is not just an ‘environmental’ issue; it is a moral issue and a matter of life and death.”

    … and this was the author’s conclusion, then:

    “In other words, Kerry brings to the Secretary of State position not only decades-long experience in operating at the top levels of political power and a passionate determination to support scientific knowledge, but also an acute sensibility of the power of ordinary individuals to determine their own fate.”

    Seems there has been some compromise in the meaning of “action”, “forward” and “face the facts” … or at least clarification of what we assumed was meant before. The measures mentioned are neither proven nor effective in overcoming the conundrum laid out in … Kerry’s staff needs to bone up on the stark reality of what we are facing. It won’t be pretty, but let’s get cracking.

    Let’s compel industry to shift investments to capital projects that expand carbon-free energy technology and dismantle carbon-based fuel infrastructure. Start now.

    Let’s tolerate no more investing in drilling, fracking, producing, transporting, refining, burning, etc. Invest in retiring and dismantling carbon infrastructure.

    Let’s demand investments only in wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, storage and technologies that we know work now (irrespective of pay-back or return on investment), continue the development of countless new discoveries and accelerate research to find yet-unknown technologies (ARPA-E).

    Let’s change the paradigm. Not replacing a coal plant with a 625-megawatt wind farm or solar-thermal array and not installing roof-top solar heating, cooling or electric systems because they give an unacceptably low “X-year” pay-back should no longer be tolerated, given the unquantified costs of inaction.

    I believe we will pay the piper one way or another, and denying this just as immoral as denying that our burning fossil fuels is changing the climate, weather, oceans, ecosystems and civilization at an unforeseen rate.

    I also believe Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike realize this. It is up to us.

  29. Paul Klinkman says:

    “Let’s demand investments only in wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, storage and technologies that we know work now …”

    Is all of that pool of money effectively going to Exxon? Does the money come with a string that the company spends the first 100 million and the government spends the second 100 million? Does this exclude the little guy with a good idea? Does the money come with a booby trap that the government retains the legal right to steal somebody’s patent and assign it to a competitor to manufacture? I’m talking about you, USDA NRCS program!

    Is the free (free for who?) market rigged so that if the little guy has a good idea or fifty, he’s always locked out and Exxon’s oil always wins?

  30. Mike Roddy says:

    I’m glad you raised that point, Paul. Coal from BLM land costs the mining companies $.1 a pound, or a tenth of a cent. This is pure corruption, and has to stop if we are going to make any progress.

  31. Joan Savage says:

    Let’s remember that Sec. Kerry is reporting a negotiated agreement with a country that has triple the population of the US, along with remembering the very relevant statistics about green house gases that he pointed out. I’m optimistic.

    Many of the comments here look like the kind of criticisms that voters freely express to their representatives. How about some applause?

  32. fj says:

    Two houses of cards will easily collapse:

    Climate change denial

    Fossil fuel dependency

    For humanity to prevail they must fall now.

  33. Paula Swedeen says:

    Secretary Kerry,

    Thank you for posting on Climate Progress and engaging in discussion with citizens who care about climate change. One area you did not mention in your post is stopping emissions from deforestation. I am hoping in the deal struck for 2015 that the U.S. can get China to relieve the pressure on Ecuador to develop oil fields in the last remaining un-developed portions of the Amazon. Drilling oil there would increase emissions both from deforestation and from burning low grade petroleum.

    Ecuador has loans from the China and China wants repayment in oil. The seven or so indigenous tribes who live in the area have not given their free, prior, and informed consent to enter their territories, and they oppose oil drilling because it would endanger their way of life and ruin their culture.

    Would you and Mr. Stern consider some way to help China meet its energy needs without Ecuador’s oil, give them and Ecuador credit in international carbon accounting for avoiding emissions from deforestation in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and help Ecuador meet its development needs without sacrificing its own indigenous people and environment?

    Thank you for your consideration.

  34. fj says:

    Psychologist Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking Fast And Slow”) got the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his pioneering work with Amos Tversky on decision making; essentially that economics is not rational.

    Climate change is everything.

    How quaint the dire reality hidden — like “The Emporer’s New Cloths” — by those houses of cards is not tanking the economy.

  35. The China-US Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) recently published and delivered to the Presidents of China and the USA, US-China 2020, US and China economic relations the Next Ten Years. There was one chapter on sustainability partnerships the two nations could take leadership, with special focus on solving climate change and marine acidification, preventing species extinction and ecosystem collapses, and addressing unbridled consumption by downsizing and closing the loop between resource use and waste growth. The chapter, Pursuing Sustainable Planetary Prosperity, can be downloaded at

  36. fj says:

    Psychologist Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking Fast And Slow”) got the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his pioneering work with Amos Tversky on decision making; essentially that economics is not rational.

  37. fj says:

    Climate change is everything.

  38. fj says:

    How quaint the dire reality hidden — like “The Emporer’s New Cloths” — by those houses of cards is not tanking the economy.

  39. fj says:

    As the economy ignores climate change’s dire reality.

  40. Matthew Tanner says:

    This is going to let all the air out of the corporatists “we’ll be the only ones doing it” argument.

  41. fj says:

    Another important part of the narrative should be the positive social change required to do battle with accelerating climate change; not mentioned as of yet.

  42. Jean says:

    Kerry is pushing Natural Gas..very bad

  43. BobbyL says:

    Economic equality in China is even worse than in the US. I would say much worse, and it is largely regional with almost all the wealth in the coastal cities and almost all the extreme poverty in the interior. And it is not just millions of people who are extremely poor but hundreds of millions, more people than there are in the US. The per capita income in the US is several times higher than in China. Implying that the economic situation in China is better than in the US is simply ludicrous. The US isn’t coming from a superior position when they discuss climate change. The facts speak for themselves. China is by far the largest greenhouse gas polluter and the problem simply cannot be addressed unless China soon reaches peak emissions and starts reducing emissions. Both sides know that. It is simply a matter of discussing it and trying to get an agreement.

  44. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    NSA staff certainly are.

  45. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    For a change in human history, where the sinking hegemon and the rising one co-operate instead of trying to annihilate one another, this may augur a new atmosphere of global collaboration, rather than endless competition and strife.

  46. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Bob, why in the name of blazes do you want to ‘outsmart’ the Chinese? They are, after all, simply human beings, like ‘us’, not aliens from outer space. Getting your smarts together to work on global problems seems to me infinitely preferable.

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I knew that from simple commonsense decades before those worthies. Where’s my Sveriges Riksbank Prize (it ain’t no Nobel-they even call it a prize for ‘Economic Science’ which is a delicious oxymoron if ever there was one)?

  48. Joan Savage says:

    China’s heavy industry makes products many Americans buy. Moving heavy industry off coal emissions takes several initiatives, not the least of which is alternate energy for blast furnaces. As nervous as I am about a shift to natural gas, what else could fill that niche, besides nuclear or hydro? Both of those come with many problems that would be hard to back out of. A lot of wind and solar parts are manufactured in China, so something is needed soon. A concentrated solar array? We have yet to see any major smelter in the US commit to using solar for electricity.

    Just rumbling, didn’t go out and get the numbers.

  49. BobbyL says:

    Typo, “equality” of course should be “inequality.”

  50. Nicholas Cole says:

    Can someone please enlighten me regarding the realities of trade in LNG between the United States in China? Is the hawking of natural gas as a “transition fuel” simply about building support for and from the industry at home, or is it a strategic play on the part of the US because they want to sell it to China?

  51. fj says:

    Being able to characterize problems is critical to solving them.

    This is mind stuff, as is virtually everything, advancing methods for achieving rationality as one of the great tools for decision making and effective solutions.

  52. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The UN reported that 110% of global poverty reduction in the first decade of this century occurred in China, because other regions went backwards. China does not yet have the material richness of the USA, but US inequality is growing rapidly, and tens of millions of US citizens are going backwards, fast. In contrast Chinese wages, from a low base, are growing rapidly, and the question of inequality and regional backwardness is a major priority. Meanwhile in the USA policies that actively worsen inequality, like union-busting, and exacerbate poverty and suffering, like food stamp reductions, are in train, and in several states are running amok. China is still behind, but is rising and sees inequality as an evil. The USA is failing, and its political and business castes see inequality as no problem at all.

  53. fj says:

    Climate change and not going net zero as fast as possible will tank the economy.

    Unilateral is the only way now.

    Create replicable models.

    Something is not impossible if it already exists.