California governor Jerry Brown is in China this week. He will be the keynote speaker at the Under2 Clean Energy Forum in Beijing on June 7. That event will bring together leaders from 170 countries, states, and cities to devise ways to address carbon emissions and keep global average temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius.
Leading up to that event, Brown signed an agreement with Wan Gang, China’s minister of science and technology. In the pact, both parties agree to work together to lower carbon emissions. Brown will also meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping during his journey.
“California is the leading economic state in America and we are also the pioneering state on clean technology, cap and trade, electric vehicles and batteries, but we can’t do it alone,” Brown said Tuesday. “We need a very close partnership with China, with your businesses, with your provinces, with your universities.”
Earlier this week, Brown signed similar agreements with with leaders from Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces. A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the agreements are designed to increase cooperation between China and California on renewable energy, zero emissions vehicles, and urban development that focuses on reducing the carbon impact of cities. The United States has 10 cities with a population of more than one million. China has more than 10 times as many.
Brown has been sharply critical of the portly potentate of Pennsylvania Avenue who chose to abrogate America’s commitment to the other nations of the world at the COP21 climate summit in Paris in December of 2015. “The president has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” Brown said. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy.”
Brown has joined with the governors of 10 other states to form the United States Climate Alliance, a group that will work to continue the policies that are at the heart of the Paris climate accords, defying Trump in the process.
The governors of two of those states are Republicans. “Our administration looks forward to continued bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy, and deliver a brighter future to the next generation,” declare Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker in a state about joining the Climate Alliance.
In a similar statement, Vermont governor Phil Scott said, “Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting clearer anymore affordable energy and transportation choices can go together. If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up and lead.”
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is also in China this week. He told the press that the US will pursue an “all of the above” energy strategy. That statement is political code that means the US will strive to make sure fossil fuels remain dominant in the energy sector.
It’s part of the fraud that supports one of the talking points reactionaries love to use — the one about how government should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. In fact, that is precisely what the government is doing for the fossil fuel industry, which contributes so generously to political candidates who promise in advance to only say good things about fossil fuels.
Brown has thrown down the gauntlet to The Donald. California is anathema to reactionaries. It has higher taxes and more regulations than any other state. Yet it leads the nation in job and wealth creation. Entrepreneurs flock there in droves to create new businesses. It has now assumed an important new role in national politics, one which is in direct conflict with the national government, such as it is, in Washington. Which offers the best roadmap to America’s future? Time will tell.