White House Claims Progress with China on Climate, Energy

This picture taken on January 22, 2013 shows a thermal power plant discharging heavy smog into the air in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin province. China has cleaned up its air before but experts say that if it wants to avoid the kind of smog that choked the country this week, it must overhaul an economy fuelled by heavily polluting coal and car use. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Dec. 5, 2013, 2:14 a.m.

The White House said Thursday that Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden and Chinese of­fi­cials agreed to ex­pand co­oper­a­tion on en­ergy-data trans­par­ency and cli­mate change dur­ing Biden’s vis­it this week.

Ten­sions between China and Ja­pan over dis­puted air­space at­trac­ted lots of at­ten­tion dur­ing Biden’s vis­it with Chinese Pres­id­ent Xi Jin­ping, and the fric­tion looks set to con­tin­ue.

But the White House claimed pro­gress between U.S. and Chinese of­fi­cials on oth­er top­ics dur­ing the vis­it, in­clud­ing joint work to phase down con­sump­tion of a strong green­house gas used in re­fri­ger­a­tion.

“Today, both coun­tries re­af­firmed the agree­ments reached by lead­ers earli­er this year re­gard­ing phas­ing down the pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of the highly po­tent green­house gas hy­dro­fluoro­car­bons us­ing the ex­pert­ise and in­sti­tu­tions of the Montreal Pro­tocol and to take next steps in the pro­cess,” the White House said in a state­ment Thursday.

On an­oth­er top­ic, the White House said China agreed to make its en­ergy mar­ket data more trans­par­ent.

China said it would de­vel­op the ca­pa­city to pub­lish stat­ist­ics more of­ten and co­oper­ate more strongly with a mul­ti­lat­er­al ef­fort called the Joint Or­gan­iz­a­tions Data Ini­ti­at­ive.

The U.S. “pledged to share its ex­pert­ise” in the area, ac­cord­ing to the White House.

The White House also said the two coun­tries re­main com­mit­ted to tack­ling fossil-fuel sub­sidies, which the In­ter­na­tion­al En­ergy Agency’s top eco­nom­ist has called “pub­lic en­emy No. 1” in ef­forts to spur low-car­bon en­ergy de­vel­op­ment.

G-20 na­tions have for years been pledging to work on phas­ing down sub­sidies, but the IEA said in a Novem­ber re­port that sub­sidies grew to $544 bil­lion world­wide in 2012.

“On fossil-fuel sub­sidies, China, to­geth­er with the United States, com­mit­ted to un­der­go peer re­views un­der the G-20 pro­cess, and phase out in­ef­fi­cient fossil-fuel sub­sidies that en­cour­age waste­ful con­sump­tion,” the White House said.

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