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US Calls for Co-op with China on Climate Change

A visiting US senior environment official on Tuesday said the United States was hoping for wide cooperation with China on combating climate change and on environmental protection.

"The Chinese government is taking a series of very aggressive measures in recognition of challenges of reducing air pollution," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

"We look forward over the course of working cooperatively with the Chinese government as they implement the new strategy to improve air quality in Beijing and also improve the health of citizens," Connaughton said.

Connaughton is touring Asia to promote cooperation on environmental protection and climate change. During his week-long visit to China, Connaughton has met with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Development and Reform Commission.

Describing the meetings as "very constructive, detailed and practical", Connaughton said they shared with China a number of US President George W. Bush's new proposals to deal with climate changes after 2012, which provided the foundation for future discussions.

The United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandates cuts in the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The Protocol expires in 2012.

President Bush has initiated conference on Sept. 27 and 28 to set long-term goals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, inviting the United Nations, European Union member countries, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Republic of Korea to send representatives to Washington for the meeting.

Connaughton will lead the US delegation, which will also include economic, energy, and environmental officials, according to a US statement.

"It is exciting time in the relations between China and the United States in the areas of environmental quality and economic prosperity," Connaughton said.

"We hope China would send strong team for the meeting," Connaughton said.

"The Chinese government has slowly and effectively worked the philosophy of a 'harmonious society' into their policy making," Connaughton said, adding they also shared "similarity of purpose" with China.

China had "translated philosophy into policy and now is translating policy into implementation".

In China's 11th Five-Year Program for Economic and Social Development (2006-2010), the government has set targets to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2010 and increase forest coverage rate from 18.2 percent to 20 percent.

"Chinese President Hu Jintao in recent five-year plan strongly emphasized essential areas of environmental protection and natural resources conservation that is just what happened in developed economies," Connaughton said.

The United States had spent 35 years addressing air and water pollution.

"We believe that China can do that in less than 30 years," said Connaughton.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2007)

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