President Donald Trump may have pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, but that didn’t stop California Governor Jerry Brown and Chinese President Xi Jinping from signing their own climate agreement in Beijing on Tuesday.
The two leaders met in the Great Hall of the People as part of an international clean energy conference in Beijing.
At the conference, Brown addressed media and promised that Trump’s decision was only a minor setback. To account for America’s withdrawal, he explained that Europe, China, and individual states like California needed to work even harder to fight climate change.
“Nobody can stay on the sidelines. We can’t afford any dropouts in the tremendous human challenge to make the transition to a sustainable future,” Brown said, according to CBS. “Disaster still looms, and we’ve got to make the turn.”
Brown, who has always been a strong advocate for protecting the environment, held a closed door conference with Xi later that day, where they pledged to increase trade of green technologies between California and China.
Xi emphasised California’s unique position as a state with colossal economic power, encouraging Brown to promote and invest in environmental science as much as possible.
California, after all, has the largest economy of any US state and the sixth largest economy in the world.
“It’s highly significant that the governor of California can meet with the president of China and talk about the foremost issue of our time,” Brown said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s very clear he welcomes an increased role on the part of California.”
As for Trump, Brown says that they did not speak about the US president’s controversial decision last week to back out of the Paris accord. “Xi spoke in very positive terms,” Brown said. “I don’t think there’s any desire to get into verbal battles with President Trump.”
Before meeting with Xi, Brown proved his dedication to fighting climate change by signing two more pacts with leaders in Jiangsu and Sichuan. His actions might go against Trump — who said that he was pulling out of the Paris accord partly because it did not do enough to prevent China from polluting — but they are part of a larger global movement to save the planet.
China, the world’s number one producer of greenhouse gasses, has taken drastic steps to address its environmental footprint in the last few years. By the end of the decade, China plans to spend $360 billion on green energy projects, and it recently surpassed the US as the world leader in renewable energy development.
David Sandalow, a former undersecretary of energy under the Obama administration, criticized America’s stance on climate change. “It’s backward looking, and it’s going to hurt the U.S.,” he told CBS. “The contrast with what’s happening in China could not be more stark.”
But people like Brown hope to make up for the president’s decision. Although he didn’t mention Trump by name, Brown told the forum, “There are still people in powerful places who are resisting reality.”
By Caroline Roy
[Images via Xinhua / Shanghai Daily]
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