People who discourage action on this issue often say that as long as China is building so many new coal-fired power plants, there's no point in spending time and money reducing U.S. emissions. Chu disagrees.
"The premiere of China told me a year and a half ago that climate change would be devastating to China and the rest of the world," and China wants to do something about it, Chu said on Wednesday.
An important part of the solution that is missing, Chu said, is a cap on carbon dioxide emissions and the ability for companies to buy and sell credits. That would create a market incentive to lower emissions. Polluters that could cut emissions quickly could sell credits to those who need more time to comply.
Rockefeller continues to oppose cap-and-trade bills in Congress in favor of putting more money into carbon capture and sequestration development first.
But Chu's department recently reported that the lack of a comprehensive climate change law is the biggest barrier to developing carbon capture and sequestration.
"Without a carbon price and appropriate financial incentives for new technologies, there is no stable framework for investment in low-carbon technologies such as CCS," the report says.
Chu summed it up Wednesday: "You need a long-term signal to investors."
Rockefeller's caution for West Virginia to get its head out of the sand was right on.