The two economic superpowers obviously see a significant future in working with China to address that country's enormous energy challenges.
The U.S. attention was on full display earlier this week when President Obama and President Hu introduced a "far-reaching package of measures" (White House characterization) aimed at increasing energy cooperation between the two countries.
Among other things, China and the U.S. agreed to the following:
- Establishment of a U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which will facilitate joint research and development involving clean energy technologies.
- Establishment of the U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership to facilitate development of "roadmaps for wide-spread renewable energy development." A working group from both countries will be formed to consider how to modernize the grid in both countries.
- A 21st Century Coal Initative, which will include large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects.
- A Shale Gas Initiative, to use experience gained in the U.S. to assess China's shale gas potential.
"Effective EU-China cooperation is critical to delivering a good deal at [the UN Climate Change Conference in] Copenhagen and to ensuring ongoing progress towards global decarbonization. Europe and China are economically and politically interdependent, and have strikingly similar energy and climate change policies. As its largest investor, trade partner and provider of technology, Europe has a strong stake in China's success."Currently EU firms invest more than $2 billion annually in Chinese projects to lower emissions of greenhouse gases through the Clean Development Mechanism, according to the CER report.
For a deeper look at the EU-China relationship, check out this blog posting by Stanley Crossick, a long-time expert on EU affairs and a senior fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary Chinese Studies.
As noted above, it is difficult to predict with any level of certainty where the two big Atlantic powers are headed in terms of respective relationships with China. But this much is clear -- when the Europeans and the U.S. point their compasses in the same direction (i.e., China) there seems a real likelihood of something big happening.