California Gov. Brown says US will stay in climate fight

BEIJING (KTVU) -- California Governor Jerry Brown is in Beijing this week, leading a delegation of state officials and business leaders in a series of meetings with Chinese and other international leaders about clean energy policies and technologies, that could strengthen political and economic ties between California and China.

Governor Brown's visit shows China that California is planning to forge ahead with the Paris Climate Accord emissions reductions, even as President Donald Trump pulls the United States out of the historic international climate change agreement.

Governor Brown will also be a featured speaker at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8) June 6-8 in Beijing, which is an annual meeting of energy ministers from 24 countries and the European Union. The delegation is scheduled to meet with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in Beijing.

Over the weekend, Governor Brown visited Sichuan province and signed a new sister-state agreement in the provincial capital Chengdu promising that California will cooperate on clean energy technology. Governor Brown then made another stop in Nanjing's Jiangsu province to sign a similar agreement.

The governor boarded a high-speed rail train for a ride to Beijing for a conference this week with energy ministers from dozens of nations.

Governor Brown's visit sends a strong message to Chinese officials about California's commitment to clean energy policies and technologies. This comes as reports emerged Monday that the acting U.S. Ambassador David Rank decided to resign due to President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.

One of the California delegates John Grubb, the  Bay Area Council's Chief Operating Officer spoke via Skype from Beijing.

"If the rest of the United States is going to pull back or the Federal government is going to pull back, that doesn't mean that California needs to do that," Grubb said.

Grubb says California and California companies can gain huge economic benefits from partnering with China on clean energy technology and services that will benefit both sides.

The Governor's office says in 2016, California imported $144 billion in merchandise goods from China, about 31.1% of all U.S. imports from China. California exported $14.4 billion in goods to China in 2016.

"We've done well in California and so now we're trying to make further global ties and China is actually the obvious next market or market to grow for California companies to go to China and sell our products and services that we have there, but also to bring their solutions to our state. They have pioneered some pretty some pretty incredible solutions," said Grubb.

Grubb says China has made big investments in clean energy technology such as power and solar panel technology that have helped to decrease costs for California solar projects.

There is also potential for partnerships in driverless vehicles and clean energy automobiles that many see as an area for job growth.

During the visit this week, the California delegation is scheduled to meet with 75 Chinese companies interested in partnering with California on clean energy technology.

Bruce Pickering, Vice-President and Executive director of the Asia Society in Northern California says his organization has completed several studies on potential U.S. and China climate change partnerships.
"The Chinese are very good at studying what works and adopting it for themsleves  the state is I think a bit of a test bed for them," said Pickering.

He says Governor Brown is highly regarded in China and his meetings in China this week send a strong signal to China that the Golden State could provide some golden opportunities for both parties.

"The Chinese are taking this very seriously and for them it's a matter of social stability. They need to deal with this. Their cities have had major problems with air quality," said Pickering.

"It's good for California because this is going to be ground zero for future and we have huge opportunities," Pickering added.

The Bay Area Council says California is on track to generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings.

Governor Brown is expected to launch a California-China Clean Energy Partnership Wednesday with the Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang, promising to partner on information technology and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.