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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release October 29, 1997

Vice President Al Gore today (10/29) announced an initiative that will move the countries toward greater cooperation in energy and environmental science, technology and trade. The measures will build upon the Clinton Administration's efforts to engage China in joint initiatives that promote sustainable development. They also help lay the groundwork for reaching common ground in addressing climate change.

Secretary of Energy Federico Pena and Minister Zeng Peiyan, Vice Chairman of China's State Planning Commission, today signed the first comprehensive statement on energy and the environment between the world's two largest energy-consuming nations. The nations plan a joint program of conducting research; sharing data; expanding the use of energy efficiency and clean energy technologies such as natural gas, clean coal and renewables; and facilitating trade and investment in these technologies. The initiatives will help meet China's growing energy needs and rural electrification objectives with clean energy solutions.

"With the momentum building for international cooperation on the environment, this is an opportune time to expand U.S.-Chinese cooperation in ways that will benefit both the environment and the global economy," said Vice President Gore. "By applying the vast array of scientific and technologies tools and promoting the private sector's participation, we are opening the way for meeting China's and, in turn, the worldwide energy challenges of the future."

The joint statement was signed during a U.S.-Summit between Presidents Bill Clinton and Jiang Zemin this week and is an outgrowth of the U.S.-China Environment and Development Forum established in March 1997 during the Vice President's visit to Beijing. Under that broader umbrella of cooperation, the energy initiative addresses cooperation in local, regional and multilateral environmental objectives, including climate change; energy and environmental science and technology; and clean energy trade, investment and technology deployment over the next five years.

The joint work will target China's objectives to bring electricity to nearly 100 million people in rural areas and to address urgent air quality problems in Chinese cities. In the rural electrification program, which is already under way, public and private partners are developing and deploying grid-connected and off-grid renewable energy sources, mini and micro hydro projects and natural gas-fired systems. Measures that are addressing air pollution include urban air quality monitoring, emissions standards and reduction of lead and other pollutants. Energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives including clean-coal technologies, natural gas technologies and wind and solar energy.

The expanded cooperation, which will be conducted in coordination with the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies, will draw on U.S. scientific and technologic capabilities for helping China meet these challenges in an environmentally sound way, while expanding investment and trade opportunities for U.S. companies. The United States can offer cost-competitive, environmentally superior technologies to help meet China's energy needs, which are projected to double in 20 years. In the joint statement, China noted its plans to increase business sector participation in meeting this challenge and to implement energy policy, regulator and pricing reforms that will improve the climate for trade and investment.

Secretary Pena and Minister Zeng discussed tentative plans for a U.S.-China Oil and Gas Forum for next year and the possible establishment of a $50 million commercial credit facility by the Export-Import Bank for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in China. The U.S. Department of Energy would help China identify projects for the latter. These activities were initially discussed during meetings between Secretary Pena and Vice Chairman of the State Planning Commission Ye Qing in May 1997.

Since their first bilateral since and technology agreements, the two countries have undertaken cooperative projects in energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear physics and controlled magnetic fusion, and global climate change. Accomplishments have included establishment of an energy and environmental center in Beijing; installation of solar systems in 600 households in Gansu province; wind assessments; feasibility studies of biogasification, wind, and clean coal technologies, adoption of an energy efficiency action plan; and a climate study.