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Keith Schneider's Posts

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Memo to Hu and Obama: water and energy choke points merit time at the China-U.S. summit

Washington’s foreign policy community is all aflutter anticipating the meaning and outcome of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s three-day summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, which starts today. But while the two heads of state focus on resolving what pries them apart, both nations share a dangerous confrontation within their borders over energy demand and water supply -- offering a matchless opportunity for new kinds of cooperation on policy, technology, business, and trade. The collision between rising energy demand and declining freshwater reserves, unfortunately, is not on the summit agenda this week. It’s only a matter of time before it is. …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Cancun Climate Negotiators No Match For New Energy Alliances

On November 29 representatives from 190 countries will be in Cancun, Mexico for the 16th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Late last week, following a two-day Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington, the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator told reporters not to expect too much. "I would describe myself right now as neither an optimist nor a pessimist," said Todd Stern, the State Department's special envoy on climate, adding that there won't be any "enormous leaps forward" in Cancun but "real and concrete steps" can be made. Exactly what …

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John Adams Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Congratulations are in order for John H. Adams, the co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who yesterday was named one of the 15 recipients this year of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Adams is the first founder of an American environmental advocacy organization to receive the award since Russell E. Train was similarly honored in 1991. Train, of course, was a founding board member of the World Wildlife Fund and the second administrator of the E.P.A. Adams said this in response to the announcement: “For forty years I’ve been privileged to live out my …

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Talk of Tianjin Climate Conference: China and U.S. Companies Are Electrifying The Car

TIANJIN, China - Whatever the differences that irked delegates from China and the United States during the six days of climate negotiations that ended here on Saturday, divisions principally defined by how each would control carbon emissions and measure progress, the unmistakable conclusion reached by most of the delegates and participants is how closely tied the two nations are to each the other. Lying quietly below the nuanced diplomatic language of frustration and distrust expressed all week by Chinese and American negotiators is an expanse of cooperative projects in and outside government that are expressly designed to help China and …

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China and U.S. Cooperate To Deploy Advanced Coal Technology

TIANJIN, China - Though Chinese workers this week celebrated the 61st anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, a holiday season as significant as July 4 in the United States, a swarm of construction laborers at China's GreenGen coal-fired gasification power plant were busy welding pipes, fitting massive joints, and bending steel for forms to be filled with concrete. Since construction on the $1 billion project began in June 2009, said Li Liangshi, the deputy chief engineer, the dusty construction site has been a nonstop 24/7 hive of activity for 2,100 workers. Next year, the consortium of …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Two Senior Diplomats Frustrated By Pace of Tianjin Climate Conference

TIANJIN, China -- Two of the significant participants in the UN climate change conference here, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres and chief U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing, have made it known they are increasingly unhappy with a tangled negotiating process that seems unable to move beyond producing more snags. Over the last 18 hours or so, the two made their frustrations public and issued veiled warnings about the relevance of the negotiations and whether it was meeting the urgency of the task at hand. In statements to reporters yesterday Pershing described the punishingly slow pace of the negotiations, which he said …

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Coal Is King In China, And Top Priority For Engineers Determined To Lower Climate Risks

TIANJIN, China - This industrious nation's allegiance to construction projects of massive scale are as familiar to the world as the 2,500-year-old, 5,500-mile Great Wall of China, which protected the country's northern frontier, and as imposing as the wide moats and towering red stone walls of the 600-year-old Forbidden City at the heart of Beijing. Still, international visitors attending China's first U.N. climate change conference are struck by the immensity of the brand new polished marble and glass Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center, the site of the meeting, and the intensity of the retail, commercial, and infrastructure construction occurring outside …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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In Tianjin, China and the U.S. Similarities Overshadow Differences

On opposite sides of the Pacific, leaders of the world's two biggest economies and carbon polluters are plainly thinking about clean energy to power up their economies and cool the climate. In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced their intention to extend vehicle efficiency standards that went into effect in April in order meet a national goal of 60 miles per gallon average fuel economy by 2025.   President Obama, in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine promised to keep pushing the clean energy and climate action envelope. And in his Saturday national …

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In Tianjin, New Urgency Stirs Fresh Hope For Climate Progress

TIANJIN, China - In a gesture that signaled more urgent engagement to cool the planet, the United Nation's chief climate negotiator today opened this nation's first international climate conference by sealing a symbolic Great Climate Wall of China with an ancient proverb. Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat and climate expert, who in May was named the new executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stamped the proverb - "with everyone's determination, we can win anything" - on a mosaic wall of 4,000 portaits of people from China and around the world concerned about the increasing …

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Before big China climate conference, new Senate support for clean energy

I’ll be in Beijing later this week, and then on to Tianjin to cover China’s first U.N.-sponsored climate summit, which begins Oct. 4. Before leaving, though, I wanted to note that on September 22,  a group of Republican and Democratic senators sent a rare bipartisan signal to the world that the United States has not abandoned the hard work of reducing climate emissions and speeding the clean energy transition. The group introduced a bill to establish the first national renewable energy standard, requiring utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewables by 2021. Wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, …

Read more: Climate & Energy