Summit leaders challenge Trump as trade war adds new dimension to China-US climate cooperation

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Energy Observer, San Francisco

 

Cities were one of the main events at a first-of-its-kind global climate summit in San Francisco from 12-14 September, with city, state and regional leaders committing to ambitious action to combat climate change. But at the China Pavilion, one of dozens of side events organized around the summit, the focus was on how China and the U.S. could continue their cooperation on battling climate change as a trade war between the two countries escalates.

“Tariff policies have already affected the construction industry, steel, wind towers and solar module imports, slowing down our response to climate change,” the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, said in an interview with Energy Observer. “For both China and the United States, a fair-trading environment is needed, especially in ports like Los Angeles."

"We hope that these issues will be resolved soon in the Pacific Rim,” added Garcetti, a Democrat who has been floated as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

At the beginning of the year, the trade spat between China and the US was already taking its toll on a previously-agreed cooperation between the two countries over liquified natural gas and oil. An ongoing battle over trade tariffs could have a severe impact on both countries by raising costs for natural gas, solar panels, electric vehicles and other energy-sector inputs.

More than half of the total shipments that come through the port in Los Angeles are related to China. If this issue is not well resolved, said Garcetti, it’s the people from both countries who will pay the price.

Electric vehicles the main focus in China-California cooperation

When California Governor Jerry Brown addressed the crowd at the China Pavilion, he said that since China's system is very different from the United States it often leads to misunderstandings between the two countries. But when it comes to facing the threat of climate change, China and the US are in the same boat.

“Through climate issues, there are many common interests between China and the U.S. that can enhance mutual understanding,” Brown said. “The challenge of climate change will enable us to strengthen our technology and industry cooperation.”

The problem of climate change can be solved, Brown added, the key is to have an open mind to implement different solutions.

As the world's fifth-largest economy, California emits greenhouses gases equivilent to 11 tons of carbon per person while China's per capita carbon emissions are 8 tons per person, Brown said. Given those numbers, it is important that both sides work together to reduce emissions.

One way they can do so is by cooperating on electric vehicles. At present, there are about 1.5 million electric cars in China, but Brown said 100 million more are needed. California is looking to lead 13 states in the US to work together to accelerate the dissemination of electric vehicles, he added, and this is where the cooperation with China is needed.

Los Angeles has pledged to transition its public transportation system to full use of electric buses by 2030. The city has already placed 155 electric bus orders, Garcetti said in an interview. 

Los Angeles is also deploying charging devices in urban blocks, with plans to have more than 2,000 charging piles. Some will be produced by American companies and some will be imported from other countries, said Garcetti, who mentioned BYD, China's biggest electric vehicle maker.

Despite the trade spat escalating between Beijing and Washington, the cooperation between California and China is still on the right track. Not long ago, California and China established a China-California Clean Technology Cooperation Fund to further promote the exchange of information and cooperation on clean technology development. The fund consists of four projects: three cooperative funds from California and Beijing, Shenzhen and Jiangsu provinces, and another fund sponsored by GCL Group.

According to the plan, the two parties will communicate and reach a consensus on financing decisions in order to achieve the common goal of addressing climate change and reducing air pollution while promoting economic growth in the two regions. In addition, Brown said in an interview with Energy Observer, that California and China have cooperated on carbon market design in China for a long time. The University of California has also established a Clean Energy Finance Research Institute with Tsinghua University.

Americans 'more determined than ever' to make progress

Cooperation was one of the highlights of the Global Climate Action Summit, which Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to convene following the announcement by US President Donald Trump that the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, an accord under which more than 170 countries have committed to reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to limit global warming.

“We knew many people around the world would conclude – wrongly – that America was walking away from climate action,” Bloomberg said at the opening ceremony of the GCAS. “In fact, Americans are more determined than ever to make progress on climate – and we are making progress.”

California's push for the rapid expansion of electric vehicles is aimed at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the next 12 years.

On September 11, the day before the summit began, Gov. Brown signed legislation that would phase out California’s use of fossil-fuel power generation and put it on the path to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

Under the bill’s targets, 60 percent of California's power generation will come from renewable sources, such as wind and solar PV, up from 32 percent at present. By 2045, the state will rely entirely on renewable energy to generate electricity. The bill made California the second state in the United States after Hawaii, to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.

At the same time, 38 other states in the U.S. have pledged to adhere to the goals of the Paris Agreement, led in large part by metropolian areas. For example, the city of Indianapolis began a project to install new streetlamps and retrofit upwards of 27,000 existing lamps with LED fixtures by the spring of 2021. That move could reduce carbon emissions by about 17 percent. In Texas, the city of Georgetown is already running at nearly 100 percent clean -energy generation, and alliances in the western states are working together to build electric vehicle charging stations.

Back to the Paris Agreement

"In the U.S., the decisions that have the most influence over greenhouse gas emissions are not made by the federal government. Those decisions are made by mayors and governors, CEOs, and citizens,” said Bloomberg. "Because of all of these groups, over the last decade, the U.S. has cut carbon emissions more than any other large nation."

In 2017, US carbon emissions fell to their lowest level in 25 years with no help from Washington, Bloomberg said. The report, "America’s Pledge," released on the opening day of the GCAS, predicts that if emissions' reduction measures are adopted even more widely than at present, the United States could come close to reducing its carbon emissions to its committed goal of 26 percent from pre-industrial levels by 2025.

"The efforts of the states and citizens do not mean that the decision in the federal government is not important," said Bloomberg. "This is one of the reasons why I participated in this year's midterm elections. Washington needs a new direction." 

During the summit, Xie Zhenhua, the special representative of China's climate change affairs, also pointed out that as climate change is becoming more and more urgent, countries must strengthen cooperation and achieve a win-win situation. At the same time, China will also ensure that it fulfills its climate targets under the Paris Agreement.

This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation. 

 

洛杉矶市市长: 贸易战添中美气候合作新变数

 

eo记者 蔡译萱 发自旧金山

 美国太平洋时间9月12-14日,气候领袖加利福尼亚州州长杰里·布朗(Jerry Brown)与前纽约市市长迈克尔·彭博(Michael Bloomberg)在旧金山举办全球气候峰会。这场吸引了来自全球各地气候领袖与参会者的气候峰会事实上并非传统,一年以前,在特朗普政府宣布打算退出巴黎气候协议之后,布朗州长和彭博毅然决定举办这次峰会。

 

反特朗普气候决议,美国38州欲达成巴黎协定目标

 “我们知道世界上很多人误以为美国正在远离气候行动,但事实是我们比以往任何时候都更有决心在气候方面取得进展 ,并且我们正在取得进展,”在加州气候大会开幕式中,彭博如此说道。

 就在9月11日,峰会开幕的前一天布朗州长签署立案,明确加州的气候目标,并承诺到2045年逐步淘汰化石燃料发电,实现零排放。 目前,加州正在推动迅速扩大电动汽车的普及率,以实现在未来12年内在1990年基础上将温室气体排放量减少40%。

 根据法案提出的目标,届时加州电网 60%的电力将来自风电、光伏等可再生能源,到2045年完全依靠可再生能源发电,(目前加州32%的电力来自可再生能源)。这一法案使加州成为既夏威夷州之后,美国第二个提出完全使用可再生能源电力承诺的州。

 与此同时,美国其他的38个州均承诺坚持实现巴黎协定的目标。如印第安纳波利斯正在对路灯进行节能改造,将其换为LED灯,减少了约17%的碳排放量。德克萨斯州的乔治城已经正在运行近100%的清洁能源发电,美国西部各州的联盟正在共同建立电动汽车充电站。

 

彭博将参加2020年美国总统竞选,重返巴黎协定

 “在美国,对温室气体排放影响最大的决策不是由联邦政府做出的而是由市长、州长、 CEO、公民们做出的,”过去十年中,美国比任何其他大国都减少了碳排放量,彭博在会议中指出。

 2017年,美国碳排放降至25年来的最低水平,与此前承诺的减少温室气体的数值相近。峰会开幕当天发布的《美国承诺(America’s Pledge)》报告预计,如果广泛采用减排措施,美国可以在2025年前减少24%的碳排放。

 “各州与公民的努力并不意味着在联邦的决定不重要,这是我参加今年中期选举的原因之一,华盛顿需要新方向”。话音未落,会议全场响起激烈的掌声。作为纽约前市长,也是彭博社创始人,彭博正式宣布计划参加2020年总统中期选举,力挺民主党人。

而在峰会的多个边会中,美国前副总统、2007年诺贝尔和平奖得主阿尔·戈尔Al Gore 公开表示,如果特朗普“退休”,美国将立即重返巴黎协定。

 

洛杉矶市长:关税风险添困扰, 两国人民为此买单

 当主会场的Moscone在为加州和城市间行动筹措之时,峰会的另一隅,本次峰会最大的参会代表团“中国角”,气候合作与贸易博弈成为全场焦点。

 今年以来,中美在能源领域的贸易出现多种变数,受关税政策影响,天然气、光伏、电动汽车等产业均受到不同程度的波及。无可否认的是,中美之间的关税大战对双方都会产生影响。

 以洛杉矶市为例,作为美国最大的集装箱港口,其吞吐货物总值逾一半与中国相关。加州洛杉矶市长艾瑞克·戈西提(Eric Garcetti)对eo记者称,贸易战是现在讨论的一个重要议题,这一问题没有很好的解决,关税附加在中美双方身上,最终为此买单的是两地的人民。 “现在,关税政策已经对建筑行业、钢铁、风塔、太阳能组件的进口产生影响,减缓我们应对气候变化的行动,对中美双方来说,都需要公平的贸易环境,尤其像洛杉矶这样的港口城市,贸易往来频繁,我们希望这些问题能在环太平洋地区很快得以解决”,Garcetti在接受eo记者采访时称。

事实上,作为民主党人的Garcetti亦将参加2020年美国总统中期选举,气候变化以及美国对外关系是其此次竞选关注的主要目标。

 

中国加州合作,电动汽车成焦点

 鉴于目前贸易战带来的变数,加州州长杰里·布朗(Jerry Brown)在中国角的活动上表示,中国的体系和美国非常不一样,这经常会导致双方产生误解,但是面临气候变化的威胁,中美同坐一条船。通过气候议题,中美之间有很多共同利益能加强双方理解。“ 气候变化的挑战将使我们在科技、产业方面加强合作,帮助我们实现可持续体系构建的目标。”

布朗进一步指出,气候变化这一巨大问题可以解决,关键要有开放的心态实行不同的解决方案。作为世界第五大经济体,加州的人均碳排放是11吨/人,中国的人均碳排放是8吨/人,重要的是双方需要合作伙伴一起减排。“比起其他国家,中国对加州非常重要,美国的汽车生产商酷爱汽油车,但是我们需要的是零排放汽车,目前中国电动汽车保有量约150万辆,但我们需要有1亿辆,至少500万辆。加州将带动美国的13个州一起行动,为了加速电动汽车普及,我们需要中国”。

 现如今,加州洛杉矶市已经承诺到2025年该市城市公共交通只使用电动交通工具,“洛杉矶已新增155辆电动巴士订单,到2030年所有公交车都将是纯电动汽车”,Garcetti向eo记者表示,他指出洛杉矶也正在城市街区配置充电装置,“比其他美国城市,我们计划多2000多个充电桩,届时将在市内匹配25000个充电桩, 其中一部分由美国公司生产,还有的从其他国家进口,包括比亚迪、普罗泰拉(Proterra)以及其他公司。

 事实上,加州与中国的合作已步入正轨。就在不久之前,加州与中国新成立了中国—加州清洁技术合作基金,旨在进一步推动清洁科技的交流合作。此项基金将包含4个项目:包括加州与北京、深圳和江苏省的3项合作基金,以及协鑫集团赞助的1项基金。

 根据计划,双方将就融资决策进行沟通并达成一致意见,使资助双方均可从中受益,有利于两地区实现气候变化和减少空气污染,促进经济增长的共同目标。此外,布朗此前曾在接受eo记者采访时表示,加州与中国在碳市场方面亦有合作,加州大学也与清华大学成立了清洁能源融资研究所。

 

中国气候变化事务特别代表解振华在峰会开幕式中亦表示,气候变化越来越紧迫,各国必须加强合作、实现共赢。与此同时,中国也将加大现有政策实施力度,确保百分之百兑现中国对外宣布的应对气候变化承诺。