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Renewable Energy Jobs - China and the US Look to Energy Efficiency

"CHINA AND THE US LOOK TO ENERGY EFFICENCYBy Alison Klayman, BeijingThe United States and China are both prioritizing the issue of climate
change. They are looking to energy efficiency as a primary means to reduce
carbon emissions and as an area for new jobs and economic growth.""It begins with energy,"" said President Obama in his late February address
to Congress.President Obama promised government investment in three areas that he
called ""absolutely critical"" to America's economic future. The first one on
his list was energy.However, President Obama went on to praise China, and not the United
States, for making the greatest strides towards the goal of energy
efficiency.""We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy
will lead the 21st century. And, yet, it is China that has launched the
largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient,"" he
said.Mr. Obama's emphasis on tackling climate change through energy
efficiency represents a relatively new imperative in both Chinese and
American environmental policies.The United States and China together represent one-quarter of the world's
population and consume approximately one-third of its energy.Some scientists say the two countries also contribute the most to climate
change. They are the top two emitters of greenhouse gases, producing one
half of the world's carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.Many analysts and even Chinese officials, themselves, believe China has
surpassed the United States as the world's biggest emitter of carbon
dioxide. But President Obama was correct in saying China is making
unprecedented strides toward energy efficiency. The Chinese government has
set a goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic
product by 20 percent in the five years from 2006 to 2010. China also aims
to have renewable fuels account for ten percent of China's total energy
consumption by 2010 and 15 percent by 2020.China's efforts have already produced some results. Energy intensity - the
amount of energy it takes to produce a unit of GDP - fell 4.21 percent in
2008. That is an improvement on the previous year's 3.66 percent decline.Liu Qi, a vice administrator at China's National Energy Administration,
says China will continue to push energy conservation to reduce emissions
and fight climate change.Liu goes as far to say the Chinese government will attach equal importance
to both energy conservation and development.Yet China still has a long way to go. About 70 percent of China's power
comes from coal-fired plants and, in the past five years, China built the
equivalent of America's entire coal-generated power system. Although many
of these plants are built to be relatively clean, urban migration and
increased living standards mean China's energy needs will continue to
expand.Chen Shihai from China's National Energy Administration says the global
economic downturn makes further reducing energy consumption per GDP very
difficult.Chen says China must reduce energy consumption, but also, at the
same time, maintain a high growth rate for industries like iron and cement.When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Foreign Minister Yang
Jiechi during her visit to Beijing last month, she also framed the push for
energy efficiency in economic terms.Clinton told reporters she spoke with Foreign Minister Yang about renewable
energy, the capture and storage of carbon dioxide from coal plants and
energy efficiency in buildings.""These technologies are essential, both to spur sustainable economic growth
in our countries and to contain the increasingly urgent problem of global
climate change,"" Clinton said.Clinton also said senior officials on both sides will hold regular
consultations in the lead-up to climate talks scheduled for December in
Copenhagen.Recent reports by organizations like the Asia Society and Brookings
Institute all agree that, without cooperation between China and the Uni"