A Partner for Mr. Hu

Tommy Friedman has been eating tryptophan-laden turkey already.

Here's his fevered dream: a letter from Speaker Pelosi to China's President, Hu Jintao.

A Partner for Mr. Hu - Thomas Friedman ... Dear President Hu: I am sure you thought that your first letter from me would be about trade and human rights. Those issues still animate my party. But I’m convinced that we have a better chance of making progress on them if we can first build a partnership to address the urgent issues of energy and climate change, which affect us both.

President Hu, President Bush promised the world when he spurned the Kyoto Protocols that he would offer an alternative. He never did. So I will. I want to propose a “New Shanghai Communiqué.” The 1972 Shanghai Communiqué forged an understanding between China and the U.S. to defuse the most destabilizing issue of that day: the struggle over Taiwan. The New Shanghai Communiqué would defuse the most destabilizing issue of our day: the world’s unsustainable appetite for energy.

What should a New Shanghai Communiqué include? First, China has committed to a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption for every 1 percent of G.D.P. growth by 2010 — a courageous commitment that Mr. Bush has also failed to make. I will see you and raise you. I am going to propose that the U.S. as a whole match the 4 percent annual improvement in energy efficiency already undertaken by California. That would mean at least a 25 percent improvement by 2012.

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China has also just imposed a national renewable energy requirement, setting a target of generating 10 percent of its energy from renewables — wind, hydro, solar power and biofuels — by 2020. I will see you and raise you again. I want to require our power grid operators to purchase 20 percent of their energy from environmentally sound renewables by 2020.

President Hu, if we can hit these targets we would put our countries — the two largest emitters of carbon dioxide — on a much more sustainable growth path and set an example that would change the world. We would create less dependence on despotic oil states, encourage everyone to be energy efficient and climate friendly, and create more room in the energy market for big emerging economies, like China, to grow without competing head-on with America for oil and gas. Instead of fighting over a shrinking pie of fossil fuels, let’s create a huge new energy pie — from renewables and efficiency savings.

Second, I want to lead an effort to help China invest in factories devoted to clean power technologies — green cars, solar panels, wind turbines — in some of our states, like Ohio, most hurt by globalization. Green energy is going to be the growth industry of the 21st century. We have some great technologies. You have $1 trillion in reserves because of your trade surplus with us. Nothing would improve China’s standing in America more than using its reserves, as Japan did, to create good U.S. jobs and profits for Chinese companies — all while advancing the clean power industry.

Third, I propose we send over a “Green Corps” of U.S. engineers to travel across China and demonstrate something many Chinese officials [and American officials!] do not understand: being green is profitable. Too many of your local officials think green is a luxury you can’t afford. You will never break out of your cycle of environmental degradation until those officials understand that pollution is wasted energy and wasted money. Our best companies, like G.E. and DuPont, consistently find that operating “green” costs much less than they anticipate and saves much more.

President Hu, we both know that the millions of cars now choking your streets are only the beginning. Your biggest concern is the 800 million Chinese living in the countryside, who need transportation to better their lives but who can’t afford even the cheapest car. Every year they buy more than 30 million motorcycles and farm vehicles, which have the advantage of being cheap but which use the most rudimentary, polluting motors — blackening your skies.

We need to bring our U.S. engineers, who know how to clean up small engines, together with your manufacturers, who know how to mass produce them cheaply, to forge companies that will not only clean up the air in developing countries but make money for both of us. If that happens, President Hu, China has the potential not just to have a “Green Olympics” in 2008, but to offer the developing world a whole new model of sustainable growth.

President Hu, over 40 years ago your country tried to make a Great Leap Forward alone — to change China. This time, let us make a Great Green Leap Forward together — and change the world.


Yeah, dude. That's gonna happen.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on November 22, 2006 9:54 AM.

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