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China Daily Global / 2021-02 / 26 / Page001

Climate partnership with China backed in US poll

By ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-26 00:00

US voters have placed a high priority on a climate-centered partnership with China, and strongly support healthy competition to develop clean energy technologies, an Asia Society poll has found.

"Voters overwhelmingly support the United States working with China to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even when presented with a stance against this partnership," the Asia Society Policy Institute said this month in a report based on a survey of more than 1,000 US voters in early December.

The report, "Understanding American Voter Attitudes Toward US-China Climate Cooperation", found that a majority of respondents, 56 percent, believed that climate change is a global problem and that the US should form a partnership with China to address it. Just over one-fourth of respondents said they did not want such a partnership.

"Though support is strongest among Democrats (71 percent) and independents (59 percent), more than a third of Republicans (35 percent) also express their support, which indicates there is potential for bipartisan consensus on this issue," the report said.

"With the exception of nuclear disarmament, a majority of voters see climate change as the most important issue for the United States and China to cooperate on-more so than tackling COVID-19," it said.

Given the twin crises of the worldwide economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, 59 percent of voters who were surveyed supported President Joe Biden working with China and other countries to create a green global stimulus, while 26 percent were opposed.

When asked if the US should do the same if China decides to take more actions to address climate change and transition to clean energy, such as ramping up production of solar panels and electric vehicles, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents, 69 percent, said yes.

The Asia Society poll found that such support was strongly bipartisan: 85 percent of Democrats surveyed, 60 percent of independents and slightly more than half of Republicans thought the US should remain competitive with China and scale up production of clean energy technologies if China does so.

China has the largest number of new energy vehicles in the world, and for many years has been a global leader of renewable energy in the number of patents, investment, installed capacity and power generation, according to Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative on climate change affairs.

The report suggested that although Republican voters were "significantly" less supportive than Democrats and independents of working with China on climate change and clean energy, "Biden and his administration can be tactful in their messaging to break through to these hesitant Republican voters".

"Support for climate collaboration with China is highest among Republicans when voters are shown messages related to the United States maintaining its leadership on the issue and ensuring the United States keeps up with China's growing force as a clean energy production leader," it said.

Kevin Rudd, president and CEO of the Asia Society and president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said that even amid escalating competition, Washington and Beijing will need to find room for continued strategic cooperation on critical global challenges.

"Climate change, combating the pandemic and improving public health, global economic recovery and financial stability, and nuclear arms control including limitations on AI warfare are examples of where cooperation will be necessary, not just for the world's interests, but to secure each other's national interests as well," Rudd said on Tuesday.

At a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Xie, the special representative for China on climate change, said China remains committed to multilateralism and win-win cooperation.

Xie also said China has launched the international coalition for green development of the Belt and Road, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, to help Belt and Road Initiative partner countries develop renewable energy projects including hydro, wind and photovoltaic power.

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