U.S. Official to Build on EPA Relationship With China to Address Climate Change

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By Andrew Childers

Dec. 2 --The Environmental Protection Agency hopes to use its existing relationship with Chinese air pollution officials to find ways to address climate change when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visits China the week of Dec. 9.

The U.S. and China represent the two largest global economies, the largest energy consumers and the largest carbon emitters, and the two countries must work together to address pollution, particularly greenhouse gases, McCarthy said during a Dec. 2 speech at the Center for American Progress.

China and the U.S. need to take a lead to address climate change as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change looks toward negotiating a global climate agreement to be finalized in 2015, McCarthy said.

“In a 2015 world, the two largest emitters of the greenhouse gases need to be at the table, and it's extremely important that China be with us and be aggressive and be supportive of establishing some goals we can all be proud of,” she said.

China Has 'Very Ambitious Goals.'

McCarthy said the EPA has worked with China's Ministry of Environmental Protection on air quality issues for the past 15 years, and she hopes to build on that relationship to address climate change.

“They have established some very ambitious goals, not only for air quality but also for climate,” she said.

EPA and China have cooperated on initiatives to curb particulate matter and to provide real-time air quality data to Beijing. That has created opportunities to discuss means to reduce carbon dioxide in China, which relies heavily on coal in its electricity and manufacturing sectors and for some residential heat and cook stoves, McCarthy said.

“Their challenge is broad and deep in terms of what they're going to be doing in their cities,” McCarthy said

Focus on Short-Lived Pollutants

McCarthy said the EPA and China have already discussed methods to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon.

The U.S. and China in September agreed to pursue amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas .

That pledge built on a June 8 agreement between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to phase down HFC emissions.

McCarthy said HFCs are the one greenhouse gas whose emissions are increasing globally. HFCs are commonly used as refrigerants and were intended to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are already being phased out under the Montreal Protocol. India's cooperation will also be necessary to reduce HFC emissions, she added.

Sulfur in Diesel Fuel

The EPA and China also are looking at ways to reduce the allowable sulfur content of diesel engines, a significant source of black carbon.

While the U.S. currently caps the amount of sulfur allowable in diesel fuel at 15 parts per million, China allows up to 10 times that amount in its diesel fuel, McCarthy said. She said the agency will discuss methods to reduce the sulfur content of fuels used by highway vehicles, heavy-duty engines and marine diesel engines.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington at achilders@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl in Washington at lpearl@bna.com

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