Small steps. Keep reminding yourself that the transformation to a globally green and sustainable mindset eventually will happen if enough small steps are taken.
From that perspective, the agreement between the United States and China to establish a jointly-owned clean energy research center fits right in. The agreement between the planet’s two most prolific polluters involves an investment of only $30 million, but maybe it’s a precursor of more to come.
Under the memorandum of understanding signed this week by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, and Administrator of National Energy Administration Zhang Guo Bao, each nation will kick in $15 million to set up the research facility, which will have headquarter sites in each country.
According to the DOE the center will “facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists and engineers from the U.S. and China, as well as serve as a clearinghouse to help researchers in each country.” The “priority topics” will initially include energy efficiency, clean-coal including carbon capture and storage, and clean vehicles.
“Working together, we can accomplish more than acting alone,” Chu said.
Facility locations have yet to be determined. The department says the objective is for initial operations to begin by year-end.
A fact sheet distributed by DOE says collaboration “on science and technology (S&T) has long been a cornerstone of overall U.S.-China cooperation.” The first agreement between the two countries after relations were normalized in 1979 was on S&T cooperation.
DOE currently manages 12 agreements with China under that S&T framework on a variety of energy, sciences and technologies including: building and industrial energy efficiency, clean vehicles, renewable energy, nuclear energy and science, and biological and environmental research.
Opportunities abound for U.S.-China cooperation on clean-energy technologies. It makes sense, and maybe eventually cents, to start somewhere. In the world of diplomacy just getting to this point qualifies as significant. In the real-world climate-change battle the follow-through is what we should watch, and especially whether the center chokes on the “clean-coal” delusion.