Urgency by U.S. and China to reduce emissions could create opportunity for Rockford

By Stuart R. Wahlin

Staff Writer

During a United Nations summit Sept. 22, President Barack Obama (D), along with China’s president, Hu Jintao, pledged new levels of commitment to protecting the earth’s climate by way of reduced emissions.

“Our generation’s response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it boldly, swiftly and together, we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe,” Obama said. “No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. … The security and stability of each nation and all peoples—our prosperity, our health, our safety—are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

China and the U.S. produce the most greenhouse gases of any countries in the world.

Among Obama’s proposals is gradual elimination of the fossil fuel subsidies, which would instead go toward climate protection. The Obama administration has also demonstrated a commitment to clean and renewable energy.

Hu pledged to reduce China’s carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency, conservation and energy not generated by fossil fuels.

Meantime, with the recent addition of a solar panel assembly plant, as well as wind power being considered for Winnebago County, Rockford stands to see more green by going green.

Based on the new sense of urgency from Obama and Hu, the city’s relationship with Chinese manufacturer Wanxiang, which broke ground Sept. 15 on its solar panel assembly plant near the Chicago-Rockford International Airport, could flourish well beyond the 60 jobs expected when construction of the plant is completed by early next year.

In addition to planning one of the largest solar farms in the country, there has also been talk of bringing Wanxiang Group’s electric automobile manufacturing to Rockford.

Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) happened to be visiting China on a trade mission when Obama and Hu made their declarations. Reached for comment, the mayor acknowledged continued discussions with Wanxiang regarding electric vehicles while on his trip. “Specifically, the focus is on assembly of electric buses,” Morrissey indicated. “We are looking at other green energy opportunities. China needs help, as does the U.S. We may be able to help each other in many ways: wind, solar, city planning, public utilities, etc.”

From the September 30 – October 6, 2009 issue.

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