Search for clean energy puts climate change on agenda
Climate change does not often come up in conversation between President George W. Bush and other world leaders, but the visit of China's President Hu Jintao this week is thought to have been an exception.
China is one of the key members of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, formed by the US last summer to promote research and development of "clean", or low-carbon, energy technology.
James Connaughton, the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said: "This [partnership] has hadvery significant leadership- level support. President Bush has discussed it with the president of India, and with the Chinese president coming."
In contrast with the US, which has drawn the universal ire of environmental groups for rejecting the Kyoto protocol on climate change, China is regarded favourably by some as making some positive moves on climate change.
More than 300 representatives from the six nations involved in the Asia-Pacific group are meeting in Berkeley, California, this week to discuss policies and the implementation of the partnership. These are likely to include measures to encourage private-sector investment into more environmentally sound techniques for power generation, renewable energy, coal mining, and into industries such as aluminium, cement and steel.
Mr Connaughton rejected criticism that the partnership was an attempt by the US to sideline the Kyoto protocol on climate change and its requirements that rich nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which the US has refused to agree to. He said: "This is about more than the Kyoto protocol. It is [about] energy security, the immediate priority of improving the health of citizens by cutting harmful air pollution, and the third objective is greenhouse gases. This is a broader dialogue than just climate change."
Climate change policy has climbed up the political agenda in recent months in the US, in part because of harder lobbying from environmental groups in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The Senate held a full-day conference on global warming this month, in which several of the US's biggest energy companies and other large corporations took part. Some, including Wal-Mart and Duke Energy, indicated they would accept caps on carbon dioxide output.