EPA Leader Urges Cooperation on Climate Ahead of Trip to China

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 20: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy addresses a breakfast event at the National Press Club September 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. McCarthy announced that the EPA is proposing regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which requires future coal burning power plants to decrease 40 percent of their emission. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
National Journal
Clare Foran
Dec. 2, 2013, 9:45 a.m.

En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy em­phas­ized the need for U.S.-China col­lab­or­a­tion on cli­mate policy on Monday, but failed to out­line a plan of ac­tion for how the two coun­tries will work to­geth­er.

“The U.S. and China rep­res­ent the world’s largest eco­nom­ies, the world’s largest en­ergy con­sumers, and the world’s largest emit­ters of car­bon pol­lu­tion,” Mc­Carthy said dur­ing an event hos­ted by the Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress ahead of her planned vis­it to China next week. “I’d rather not be the largest en­ergy con­sumers or the largest emit­ters of car­bon pol­lu­tion, but since we are we’re go­ing to get to­geth­er and we’re go­ing to talk.”

Mc­Carthy touted the pres­id­ent’s cli­mate-ac­tion plan dur­ing the event and stated that the U.S. will play a ma­jor role in fa­cil­it­at­ing glob­al ef­forts to rein in car­bon emis­sions.

“We are go­ing to con­tin­ue at EPA to take the lead in im­ple­ment­ing the pres­id­ent’s cli­mate-ac­tion plan,” she said. “We are charged with re­spons­ib­il­ity to do it and we will meet that chal­lenge — to ad­dress the ac­tion items in the re­port and the plan as well as con­tinu­ing to en­gage our in­ter­na­tion­al part­ners be­cause it’s all about re­du­cing car­bon pol­lu­tion. It’s all about ad­apt­ing to a chan­ging cli­mate and it’s all about the United States play­ing a lead­er­ship role in in­ter­na­tion­al dis­cus­sions.”

Mc­Carthy called on China to emu­late U.S. ef­forts to im­prove air qual­ity but was not clear on what the ad­min­is­tra­tion will do to en­sure that China suc­ceeds in this en­deavor.

“China also is fa­cing sig­ni­fic­ant pub­lic out­cry and they have sig­ni­fic­ant chal­lenges that they need to ad­dress,” the EPA ad­min­is­trat­or com­men­ted. “But the good news is that we have been there be­fore. The U.S. has faced these chal­lenges. We have faced them well, we have faced them over time…. We know the tech­no­lo­gies that are avail­able, we know what plan­ning can do, we know that there are many ways that you can en­gage states, and in China’s case provinces, to bring a sense of ur­gency to this is­sue, and we are go­ing to be work­ing with them to ad­dress these air-qual­ity is­sues go­ing for­ward.”

Mc­Carthy also offered some praise for Chinese lead­ers. “They have es­tab­lished some very am­bi­tious goals,” she said. “Not only for air qual­ity but also for cli­mate and we be­lieve that they can learn from the les­sons of the United States.”

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