All Shorenstein APARC Publications Policy Briefs Stanford Energy

Accelerating Decarbonization in China and USA through Bilateral Collaboration

November 30, 2021
Cover of the report 'Accelerating Decarbonization in China and USA through Bilateral Collaboration'

In October 2021, Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford Center at Peking University, and Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center’s China Program partnered with Peking University’s Institute of Energy to organize a series of roundtables intended to promote discussion around how China and the United States can accelerate decarbonization and cooperate with one another to meet their carbon neutrality goals by mid-century. The thematic areas included U.S.- China collaboration on climate change, global sustainable finance, corporate climate pledges, and the opportunities and challenges for the acceleration of decarbonization in both countries in general, as well as specifically for the power, transportation, and industry sectors.

The roundtable series brought together leading American and Chinese current and former officials, and experts in the public and private sectors working on energy, climate, the environment, industry, transportation, and finance. This report reviews the key themes and takeaways that emerged from the closed-door discussions. It builds on the “U.S.-China Joint Statement Addressing the Climate Crisis” released by the U.S. Department of State on April 17, 2021 and shares some common themes with the “U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s” released on November 10, 2021.

This report further identifies more concrete and additional promising areas for accelerated decarbonization and bilateral collaboration, as well as the obstacles to be tackled, including institutional, political, and financial constraints. This report could serve as a basis for concrete goals and measures for future U.S.-China cooperation on energy and the climate. It also highlights the contributions universities can make to the global energy transition. The roundtable series identifies areas most critical or potent for bilateral collaboration, paving the way for concrete action plans at the national, local, and sectoral levels. Section 1 offers a brief overview of the acceleration of decarbonization in the U.S. and in China. Section 2 identifies the opportunities and challenges of U.S.-China cooperation on climate change. Sections 3-7 delve into specific promising areas for accelerated decarbonization and opportunities and hurdles for bilateral collaboration in corporate, finance, power, transportation, and industrial sectors.

This report is not a comprehensive review of all the relevant areas pertaining to decarbonization in China and the U.S. and bilateral collaboration on climate change. For example, this roundtable series focused on climate mitigation. Another strategy to respond to climate change is adaption, which we reserve for potential future discussion in a separate report. Additionally, the focus of this report is on energy. Important measures such as reforestation as a carbon sink are reserved for separate discussions. The views expressed in this report represent those of the participants at the roundtable series and do not necessarily represent the positions of the organizing institutions. Chatham House rules were used throughout the roundtables to facilitate open and frank discussion, so views are not attributed to individual participants