WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 – EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said today she intends to push Chinese officials on their climate control and air pollution efforts during her upcoming visit to China.
McCarthy, speaking at the Center for American Progress, said she will discuss elements of the administration’s climate action plan and stress the need for a global approach to reduce carbon pollution.
“The [United States] and China represent the world’s largest economies, the world’s largest energy consumers, and the world’s largest emitters of carbon pollution,” McCarthy said. “One out of three isn’t that good. I’d rather not be the largest energy consumers or the largest emitter of carbon pollution. But since we are, we’re going to get together and we're going to talk.”
McCarthy said while there is economic competition between the countries, both should share the same level of concern about a changing climate.
She did not offer details about how the United States would get China to move further on climate change issues, but noted 30 years of “significant cooperation and partnership” between the countries.
“The [Ministry of Environmental Protection] in China knows they are facing significant air quality challenges,” McCarthy said. “They have known that for some time. We know that as well.”
McCarthy said pollution is emanating from China and heading into the U.S. West Coast. “We know that mercury emitted in China goes in the upper atmosphere and is re-deposited in our rivers and streams where we rely on food and we recreate,” she said.
McCarthy said public outcry in the United States in the 1960s and 1950s led to significant laws being enacted to deal with pollution, and said China is now facing similar public outcry.
“[China] has established some very ambitious goals not only for air quality, but also for climate,” she said. “And we believe that they can learn from the lessons of the United States and to leapfrog to actually look at ways of addressing their air quality challenges, and do it in a way that they can continue to build a clean energy economy.”
McCarthy noted that every dollar the United States has invested in the Clean Air Act has led to between $4 and $8 in economic benefits.
“If we can convince the Chinese that our continued relationship is worth that investment, then we will all reap those benefits together,” she said.
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