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Paulson, China and Climate

Since returning from the Beijing Olympics last month, Hank Paulson has been a nonstop crisis manager. (I don’t think he’s had a day off.) But when we spoke back in August, and again a couple of weeks ago, we spent some time talking about a couple of his long-term passions: China and climate change.

Paulson’s take on China and climate are the topic of today’s Sustainability column. These issues will matter when Wall Street settles down—as it will one day, although probably not anytime soon. Here’s how the column begins:

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has careened from crisis to crisis lately, backing the Bear Stearns rescue, engineering the government takeover of Fannie Mae, refusing to commit taxpayer money to save Lehman Brothers, and Friday announcing a massive program to help banks offload mortgage-related assets.

When he hasn’t been fighting fires, Paulson, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), and his team at Treasury have been working on two big, long-term issues that matter to him, and should matter to all Americans - U.S. relations with China and climate change.

They are intertwined, of course. Without the support of huge, rapidly-developing nations like China (and India), there’s no way that Europe, Japan and the U.S. can drive a global consensus to curb global warming.

You can read the rest here.

It will be a fascinating week in Washington, by the way. President Bush, Paulson, Ben Bernanke desperately want to get their big Wall Street rescue package approved but because the Democrats who control Congress know that, they will try to load up the legislation with their own proposals, some related, some not—including relief for individual homeowners (probably not a good idea), curbs on executive pay (a good idea, but can it be imposed effectively from Washington?), maybe the production tax credit for renewable energy (crazy that this didn’t pass long ago) and who knows what else. The Republicans in the House, many of whom are already disgruntled with Paulson and Bush and their activism, will be very unhappy but likely irrelevant. As I said, it will be a fascinating – and historic – week.

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