China, California address climate, energy issues
Updated: 2015-03-05 11:42
By Lia Zhu in San Francisco(China Daily USA)
Jerry Brown addresses Asia Society on Wednesday. LIA ZHU/CHINA DAILY
California and China are looking for ways to work together on clean energy and climate change.
"The executive branch of President Obama has made some bold moves to deal with climate change, but that is not enough for the global challenge, and China is a critical variable," said California Governor Jerry Brown, who spoke Wednesday at the Asia Society.
Speakers attending agreed that China and the US, and particularly California, with its history of environmental protection, should share knowledge.
California can show that renewable energy is compatible with job creation and is non-confrontational politically, Brown said.
Despite the pledge by Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November to reduce carbon emissions, there's a lack of legally binding international actions on climate change, according to A Vital Partnership: California and China Collaborating on Clean Energy and Combatting Climate Change, an Asia Society report released at the meeting.
"As such, subnational levels of government and their ability to form voluntary partnerships have become even more important pieces in the mosaic of any global climate change remedy," it said.
California is committed to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. The governor and China's top climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, signed an agreement in 2013 to boost cooperation on climate change and clean energy and to cut carbon emissions.
The state is also actively enlisting California-based research institutes, civil society organizations, utility companies and private sector companies to support those efforts.
California has signed memorandums with Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces as well as Beijing and Shenzhen cities, and projects including trade and investment office environmental technologies initiatives, clean energy businesses and emissions trading projects have begun.
China's central government has also begun initiatives, including a binding commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of GDP by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and the recent pledge of reaching peak emissions by 2030.
However, the researchers said they have met challenges in China, such as the large number of factories.
Lynn Price, a scientist and leader of China Energy Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said it's challenging to integrate the factories into the system and effectively monitor them.
Another challenge for both sides is cost. Fighting climate change is an "expensive thing", and there's a huge finance gap, said Michael Schmitz, executive director of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA.
He said local governments in both countries are concerned about debt and finance.
"Finance is critical, so I think win-win in this case is with the ability to create markets and the ability to create wealth," he said.
A switch from a fossil fuel-based energy system to a clean one creates opportunities for an evolving California-China partnership in different economic sectors, such as low-carbon electricity systems, low-emission vehicles, and energy-efficient buildings, industry and appliances, as well as forestry, agriculture and waste management, the report said.
California has saved billions of dollars by using less energy, and Chinese leaders increasingly understand that reducing demand through energy efficiency is the best option for cutting pollution from the energy supply, according to the report.