US-China collaboration critical to climate solution



Collaboration and partnership between China and the United Sates are absolutely critical to a meaningful, substantive and programmatic climate solution, a US environment expert has said.


Suzanne Malec-McKenna, commissioner of the Department of Environment at City of Chicago, said Tuesday in an interview with Xinhua that it is just so exciting to see China, the largest developing country, and the United States, the largest developed country, to work together.


"(The fact that Chinese) President Hu Jintao and (US) President (Barack) Obama agreed to work together is absolutely not just symbolic, but also dynamic and compelling," she said.


During President Obama's China visit, the two sides singed a joint statement in Beijing on Tuesday after talks between the two presidents, agreeing that "the transition to a green and low-carbon economy is essential."


Malec-McKenna said, "The statement really shows our commitment to collaborate with each other on these issues. This is what will drive the world stage on climate action in the future."


"If the United States and China can truly forge a strong meaningful long-term partnership, it gives me incredible hope for our planet, for our economy and for our environment," she added.


On the same day when the China-US joint statement was announced, the Chicago-China Green Building and Technology Conference opened in Chicago, during which Malec-McKenna delivered a speech on "Chicago Climate Action Plan" to share the city's successful experience with key business and governmental experts from the United States and China.


During her presentation, Malec-McKenna said that Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley began to transform the city into the most environmentally friendly city in the nation more than 15 years ago.


"Today, Chicago is one of the world's greenest and most livable cities, thanks to strong partnerships between government, residents and businesses. We lead the way from green roofs to green buildings and policies. Our Green Homes and other programs help families save thousands of dollars through energy efficiency," she said.


Malec-McKenna said "Chicago has always been a very international city and always recognized the importance of leveraging ideas and funding creativity with other countries and cities."


The Chicago-China Green Building and Technology Conference is just a perfect example how they can learn from each other and collaborate on projects good for their environments and economies, she added.


Malec-McKenna was very impressed by what the Chinese are doing in climate change when she was attending C40 Cities Climate Change conference in Seoul, South Korea, in May 2009.


"I am so impressed with Chinese cities' interest and ability to take some risks and try out new technologies, because it is the only way we are going to learn. I am very impressed from everything from waste energy, to solar energy development, to clean-up technology -- there are a lot we can garner from each other," she remarked.


When asked about what Chinese cities can learn from Chicago's experience, she said the biggest thing that really speaks to the success is their collaborative efforts from corporate, research institutions, civic institutions and the communities.


"We tried to find a way that everybody get some benefits from it, such as green jobs in the low income communities, or venture capital, its leverage in finance strategy through banks or support new technology development at our institutions like Illinois Institute of Technology. That is the strength we have and it has been achieved under Mayor Richard Daley for the past 20 years," Malec-McKenna told Xinhua.


On the other hand, she pointed out, "We have much to learn from China in terms of technology, implementation, finance and how to leverage a whole range of things together."


She is very excited about the huge positive opportunities existing for a quickly developing country like China.


"China has the economic firepower to do things in a green way," she said.

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