Climate activists say the U.S.-China rapport on climate took a step forward at the Copenhagen climate conference last month, where Chinese officials endorsed at least some outside review of first-time pledges to slow the country’s emissions growth.
For now, environmentalists and other experts say they don’t see a threat to bilateral work on climate change and energy, which has expanded in recent years.
“The check against that, at least as it relates to energy and climate issues, is that we have now built all this infrastructure and layers of cooperation,” said Jonathan Adams, a China expert with the World Resources Institute. He cited, for instance, formal memorandums of understanding between the nations that have been reached on green energy technology collaboration.
Jake Schmidt, director of international climate policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, similarly said he’ll keep an eye on the issue but does not yet see potential for spillover into climate change.
“The U.S.-China relationship is pretty broad these days and I would be surprised if one issue were to impact the relationship to an extent that it would damage the ability to move forward on other issues,” he said. “We are beyond the stage of having single-issue conversations with China.”