California ex-governor launches climate partnership with China

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Former California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday announced the launch of a partnership between China and the University of California at Berkeley to advance research into low-carbon technology to fight climate change.

FILE PHOTO: California Governor Jerry Brown delivers his final state of the state address in Sacramento, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

Brown cast the partnership as a way for the United States and China, the world’s two biggest emitters of heat-trapping gases, to work together even as President Donald Trump steps back from global cooperation on climate change and engages in a trade war with Beijing.

“The climate threat doesn’t respect borders and it doesn’t pause for politics,” Brown said in an interview. “This will be the open channel between America and China on the number one topic our countries share – not trade but climate change.”

The two-time Democratic California governor announced the California-China Climate Institute alongside China’s top climate change official Xie Zhenhua. The institute, chaired by Brown, will focus on advancing research on electric and hydrogen cars, other low-carbon transportation technology, climate-smart agriculture, and policy proposals, they said.

The launch was timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit in New York attended by leaders from about 60 countries and meant to ramp up global ambition to stem global warming.

Trump, who has questioned mainstream climate science and sought to undo Obama-era climate protections to boost the American economy, is skipping the event.

The Trump administration last week also revoked California’s authority here to set its own greenhouse gas and vehicle fuel efficiency standards, an action expected to hobble efforts at cutting carbon emissions from cars.

States following California’s standards have accounted for more than 40% of U.S. vehicle sales.

Brown said China is on the verge of leadership on electric cars and will benefit from working with California.

“China is investing money in electric cars while Trump is trying to undermine California’s authority. He is making a bet on the past by imposing gas guzzlers on Americans rather than something that is more innovative and elegant,” Brown said.

He added that California and China would also “work on models for cap-and-trade”. Both already have in place emissions trading systems aimed at lowering emissions.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Richard Valdmanis