The United States, China, and the Competition for Clean Energy

Author(s): Brian Murray, Jonas Monast, Chi-Jen Yang, and Justine Chow

Published: July 2011

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The United States is now grappling with the challenge of meeting its long-term energy needs in a secure, affordable, reliable, safe, and environmentally sustainable way. In United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in December 2010, the United States and other countries committed to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 2020 and fund mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. China, now the world’s largest emitter, has agreed to cut its GHG emissions significantly, reflecting its recent commitment to scientifically balanced development and the development and deployment of renewable and other clean energy sources. Since mid-decade, China has gone from being a relatively small player in clean energy to the world’s largest investor. This policy brief poses a number of questions aimed at identifying how best the U.S. should advance its interests with regard to the development and deployment of clean energy technologies, both in absolute terms and relative to China and other major economies.