After withdrawing from the Paris accord, the United States has now staged a de facto exit from 'Mission Innovation' (MI), a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Union to dramatically accelerate global clean energy innovation.
Energy ministers from around the world traveled to Beijing this week for a series of meetings on international efforts to accelerate the shift to clean energy, including the Mission Innovation pact aimed at doubling government funding for research and development and U.S. energy secretary Rick Perry is attending.
But the Trump administration has arguably already staged a de facto exit from the initiative, and has certainly signaled it's opposed to the goals, reports the MIT Technology Review.
The meetings of the Clean Energy Ministerial come days after US President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate agreement and weeks after the White House floated a budget proposal that would slash research funding for the Department of Energy by more than $3 billion.
Speculations are that Washington's deep proposed cuts to energy R&D could cede leadership to China, and derail the international Mission Innovation partnership.
For some observers, the location and timing of the meetings only reinforce the growing international perception that China has seized the climate leadership role abandoned by the United States, says the report.
The Mission Innovation pact was put together in 2015, on the sidelines of the Paris climate negotiations, which were focused on emissions reduction goals rather than the technology to get there.
China pledged to raise its spending by around $3.8 billion, while the United States committed to increase funding by more than $6 billion by 2021, for the mission.
But with proposes cuts by the White House in sight, some fear that if the United States flagrantly abandons its pledges, other participants may too, undermining momentum as the financial commitments were nonbinding.
The report says that the funding cuts also threaten to undermine the United States' competiveness on technologies that could prove to be the defining economic force of the decades ahead.