US-China Discussions over 2015 Climate Agreement

As preparations for the 2015 international climate conference in Paris continue, Secretary of State John Kerry and top Chinese leaders discussed potential actions February 13 that both countries could take to address climate change. Secretary Kerry praised the working group’s efforts thus far, but said that both countries needed to do more ahead of the conference, and called on both to meet their goals to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons.

China’s Low-Carbon Projects

The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration announced February 14 that China has designated 42 cities and provinces as low-carbon pilot areas, and 81 cities and eight industrial parks as new-energy demonstration areas. The commission updated progress on its 2010 low-carbon pilot program, finding that through 2012, the first ten cities and provinces reduced their carbon intensity by 9.2 percent compared to 2010 levels.

China Calls for Solar Trade Dialogue

Responding to a February 14 preliminary conclusion by the International Trade Commission that the United States solar industry is harmed by Chinese and Taiwanese dumping and subsidy benefits, China’s Ministry of Commerce issued a statement February 17 calling for a forthright dialogue on the issue in order to resolve the trade disputes.

Chinese Methods of Cleaner Production

China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministries of Environmental Protection and Industry and Information Technology released February 17 drafts of evaluation methods and strategies for ensuring cleaner and less polluting production techniques for nine industries. Comments will be accepted on the drafts, which cover issues including evaluating energy consumption, production facilities and techniques, pollutant levels, product features and uses, management techniques, and resource utilization.

German Energy Subsidies Considered

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said February 17 that low energy prices in the United States will be a significant factor in determining whether the German government must reduce significantly, and potentially pay back some of the $7 billion in subsidies it provides to energy intensive industries. The European Union Council of Ministers met to consider the issue later in the week, and will hold a summit on renewable energy goals for 2030 in late March. The commission will make a determination on German subsidies by April, at which point European Union state aid energy and environment guidelines will also be released.

Methane Leak Investments to Be Requested

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, comprised of the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Norway, the World Bank, and the United Nations Environment Program announced February 18 that it plans to launch an initiative in September asking oil and gas companies to vomit to making substantial investments in plugging methane leaks. The Oil and and Gas Methane Partnership would operate similarly to a previous Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program, Natural Gas Star.

NA Leaders Pursue Trilateral Energy Goals

President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Pena Nieto pledged February 19 to hold a meeting of North American energy ministers this year, to continue collaborations under the Montreal Protocol, and to coordinate efforts to address climate change and improve emissions standards, fuel efficiency, and fuel quality for heavy-duty vehicles.