In what is being heralded a historic moment, Governor of California Jerry Brown signed an agreement with a Chinese climate negotiator, Friday Sep. 13. This represents the first occasion a pact has been established and approved between China and a U.S. state, detailing tighter policy on climate change issues. It is hoped this unprecedented coalition could culminate in each member of the new partnership developing and sharing clean energy technologies, and exploring research initiatives aimed at lessening emissions of greenhouse gases.
Memorandum of Understanding
The deal was struck between California’s environment and energy officials and China’s National Development and Reform Commission. According to Governor Brown, the new coalition between China and California could serve as the “catalyst” needed to fundamentally alter U.S. policy-making.
Brown has also discussed the importance of multilateral decision-making. As a part of the new memorandum, agencies, officials and researchers from both sides are to become involved in what Brown describes as “… a very important opportunity.”
The agreement is in place for the next two years. The new partnership will seek cooperation in looking for low-carbon energy technologies, as well as conducting an investigation into current policies, and how they might be amended to better tackle climate change.
In achieving this, the two parties have already initiated a joint task force to begin work into these important issues. The Chinese director general, from the Department of Climate Change, will form a part of this new organization, as will officials from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Xie Zhenhua, explained that California was an exceptional role model for climate change in the United States, before moving on to address some of the ambitions behind their latest deal. He stipulates that finer regulation over industrial carbon and methane emissions is necessary, alongside other major atmospheric pollutants.
This new approach may seem at odds to how the Chinese have regarded climate change initiatives, of the past. Xie explains the Chinese are now making a concerted effort to tackle the problem, realizing its impact on human health, as well as the economy.
Governor Brown was instrumental in formulating the Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese, after having made a Trade and Investment Mission to the country, earlier in the year. This was shortly followed by a follow-up visit to attend a meeting with President Xi Jinping, where climate change was one of many topics discussed.
According to Bloomberg, Robert Percival, the director of environmental law, at the University of Maryland, had this to say:
“The pattern that is emerging is that as consensus becomes virtually impossible in global climate negotiations, the U.S. and China are realizing that they can make huge progress simply by working bilaterally.”
Environmental groups have, naturally, applauded the move. Diane Regas of the Environmental Defense Fund suggested the agreement to be “remarkable.” She states both sides of the coalition have much to learn from one another. The Chinese can understand more about California’s zero tolerance approach to carbon emissions, whilst the Chinese can reciprocate by demonstrating their technological innovations, particularly in terms of electric vehicles. Hopefully, this is one small step that could inspire other regions to form similar, meaningful climate change treaties.
By: James Fenner
Bloomberg News Source