By Laura Barron-Lopez - 12/02/13 06:06 PM EST
Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy stressed the need for the U.S. to play a key role in leading international talks on climate change.
Another leader in those talks is China, McCarthy said Monday at an event hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress.
"We represent the world's largest economies, largest energy consumers and largest emitters of carbon pollution," McCarthy said.
"We know economic competition between the two nations is healthy but we do share the same climate."
The EPA chief will meet with air pollution regulators and those dealing with climate change on her trip and aims to help the country meet its air pollution challenges.
Coal takes up 80 percent of the fossil fuels burned in China, McCarthy said, noting an abundance of coal-fired household cook stoves used in the country.
"We know we are great partners and we know we can learn from each other," McCarthy said.
The meeting between the U.S. and China comes on the heels of the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.
The talks yielded more lenient climate change guidelines for China and India than the U.S. and European countries wanted.