EU and US vow to use crisis for green new deal
Secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Friday said the Obama administration was committed to take EU-US co-operation to a new level, particularly in regards to climate change and the current economic crisis, which had to be dealt with together.
"We are committed to a cap-and-trade system, but also to a number of other things. We are making major investments now in our stimulus package in alternative energy, in basic science research, in new forms of fueling transportation, as well as upgrading our grid. The European Union is taking a similarly broad approach," Ms Clinton told a press conference after meeting with EU representatives.
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Earlier that day, when addressing an audience of young Europeans in the EU parliament, she said that the US was learning from the EU how to design the climate change regulatory framework and that it would be a mistake if politicians chose to lay off green investments under the pretext of the current economic crisis.
"I'm actually excited by this opportunity. I'm very well aware we're not yet through the economic crisis. The chief of staff of President Obama said 'never waste a good crisis.' When it comes to the economic crisis, don't waste it, it can have a very good impact on climate change and energy security," she said.
She said the appointment of a special envoy for climate change was a proof that the Obama administration was taking climate change very seriously. The key for a global agreement at the UN conference on climate change in December was to get China on board, who now had surpassed the "unfortunate historic record" of the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, until now a record the US had the dubious distinction of holding.
During her trip to Asia last week, Ms Clinton had been accompanied by the special envoy for climate change, who had held talks with Chinese officials, she said.
"It is important that China at the beginning of this process is willing to participate. They understand they have to be part of a solution," she said.
External relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that with the new administration in Washington, the EU and the US were now "going totally in the same direction," which was not the case in the past.
US support for a single energy market
Similar to the EU commission, Ms Clinton saw energy security and climate change as part of the same problem.
"I pledged American support for EU initiatives to build a single energy market and to diversify gas supplies. EU leadership and unity were pivotal in resolving Russia's recent cutting off gas to Ukraine and Europe, and that leadership may be needed again in the future," she said.
Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, representing the rotating EU presidency, added that the Ukrainian government had paid its debt, so the flow of gas should not be endangered.
On Thursday, however, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said he was concerned about Russia's warning that it could again halt gas deliveries to Ukraine over its unresolved payment dispute.