President Obama opened high-level U.S.-China meetings in Washington today by underscoring the need for enhanced cooperation between the countries -- the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters -- on low-carbon energy sources.

"Let's be frank: Neither of us profits from a growing dependence on foreign oil, nor can we spare our people from the ravages of climate change unless we cooperate," Obama said. "Common sense calls upon us to act in concert."

Obama spoke at the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which will feature two days of talks on a range of economic, security and energy issues.

The talks are being led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on the U.S. side, and Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo for China.

Obama said both nations are taking steps to transform their energy systems and emphasized what he has repeatedly hailed as the economic promise in speeding deployment of "clean" and efficient energy technologies.

"Together we can chart a low-carbon recovery; we can expand joint efforts at research and development to promote the clean and efficient use of energy; and we can work together to forge a global response at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and beyond," Obama said, according to a White House transcript.

"And the best way to foster the innovation that can increase our security and prosperity is to keep our markets open to new ideas, new exchanges and new sources of energy," he added.

One China expert said Obama's emphasis on U.S.-China cooperation ahead of the United Nations' Copenhagen, Denmark, summit in December -- where world leaders will try and hammer out a worldwide climate change treaty -- could aid efforts to reach a global pact.

"I think his [Obama's] feeling is if the bilateral cooperation can take hold on a significant scale, that will provide momentum toward Copenhagen, and also demonstrate that the world's most advanced industrial country and the world's most rapidly developing country can overcome differences of principle about responsibility for where we are and how we move forward and pragmatically find ways to cooperate to reduce future carbon emissions," said Ken Lieberthal, a visiting fellow in foreign policy with the Brookings Institution. "That in itself would have great significance for Copenhagen."

Chinese leaders have resisted binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and a major issue ahead of the talks is what steps developing countries with rising emissions would agree to take under the treaty.

Other officials expected to take part in the talks include Xie Zhenhua, head of China's Climate Change and Coordinating Committee, U.S. State Department climate change envoy Todd Stern, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House science adviser John Holdren (ClimateWire, July 27). The meetings follow a visit to China earlier this month by Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to discuss energy technology cooperation.

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC., 202-628-6500