U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, left, listens to Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli during a meeting at the Zhongnanhai leaders compound in Beijing Thursday, June 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, Pool)
BEIJING (AP) — America and China have “extraordinary opportunities” to work together on clean energy, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday, amid global criticism of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.
In a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on the sidelines of a clean energy conference in Beijing, Perry cited liquefied natural gas, nuclear energy and carbon capture as areas where the two countries can cooperate.
“Those are three areas that I think we have extraordinary opportunities to be partners to work on clean energy issues,” Perry said.
Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the climate agreement negotiated in 2015 sparked speculation that he is creating a leadership void that could be filled by China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses.
In Japan on Monday, Perry said he hoped China will step forward to be a “real leader” on climate issues, while rejecting criticism that the United States is backing down.
“I hope China will step in and attempt to take the mantle away. It would be a good challenge for them,” Perry said.
In their opening remarks before reporters were ushered out of Thursday’s meeting, neither Perry nor Zhang mentioned Trump’s decision. The 2015 agreement had largely been seen as a triumph of cooperation between the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest economies and energy consumers who are often at odds on issues such as regional security and human rights.
Nor did Perry mention renewables such as solar and wind power, in which China is a global leader.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, who also attended the Beijing conference, told The Associated Press that Trump’s move would ultimately prove only a temporary setback because China, European countries and individual U.S. states will fill the gap left by the federal government’s move to abdicate leadership on the issue. China and California signed an agreement Tuesday to work together on reducing emissions.