HONG KONG, May 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke kicked off a clean energy business development trade mission to China and Indonesia, saying greener energy solutions have the potential to create millions of jobs.
The delegation includes senior executives from 24 American companies representing "a cross-section of the best that America has to offer" in clean energy, energy efficiency, electricity energy storage, transmission and distribution, Locke said Sunday as he arrived in Hong Kong.
Locke said he was eager to help forge new business partnerships for the companies in Hong Kong and in China for projects such as building wind turbines and designing more energy-efficient buildings
The trade mission continues through May 26, with stops in Shanghai, Beijing and Jakarta, Indonesia.
China, the world's largest emitter of carbon, has pledged to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40-45 percent by 2020. It also aims for wind, solar and biomass energy to represent 8 percent of its electricity generation capacity by 2020.
"With global energy demand slated to double by 2050, we're going to have to mobilize every innovative company and every bright mind we can behind discovering cleaner, greener energy solutions," Locke said in his Hong Kong speech.
"If we meet this challenge -- and I believe we can -- we can unlock one of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century, and put millions of people to work in high-skill, high-wage jobs," he said.
Locke said that the U.S. and China, as the world's two biggest emitters of carbon, have a moral responsibility to lead the world in such an initiative.
A Pew Charitable Trust study released in March showed that China ranks first globally for overall clean energy finance and investment in 2009, with the United States slipping to second place. But the United States still leads in renewable energy capacity.
Of the 178 gigawatts of power generation capacity under construction in China at the end of 2009, more than 96 gigawatts were for renewable energy.
"China is like a big test site for all kinds of clean technologies," said Li Junfeng, deputy director general of the Energy Research Institute under the China Development and Reform Commission, China Daily reports.
"It would be an ideal partnership if the U.S. moved in more actively with its robust research strength," Li said. But lack of communication, intellectual property issues and export regulations have hampered cooperation between the two countries in the past.