By Laurèn DeMates-
A thought-provoking event and the first of its kind in addressing climate change occurred last week as California Governor Jerry Brown and Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Minister of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). On Friday, September 13th the agreement was signed, which according to the China Daily USA, includes ‘areas and forms of cooperation and implementation.’ SF gate also reported that the agreement includes creating a joint task force, sharing low-carbon technologies as well as research and policy innovations. California was recognized by Xie for being a leader in ‘decisive actions to address climate change’ and Jerry Brown hopes for the partnership to be a catalyst for addressing the issue in the U.S. There is no doubt that California has acted as a catalyst for undertaking environmental issues and already passed Assembly Bill 32: Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, but China still seems to be an odd partner for such an agreement.
China and the U.S. are the world’s largest producers of GhG emissions, thus their need and inability to successfully work together on climate change is internationally apparent. Although not directly a U.S. and China national level agreement, it is a step forward and will be intriguing to see the outcome and deliverables. This agreement reflects the elevated role of states and also cities in addressing climate change. Partnerships, such as California and China, although surprising at first, are not all that surprising as one takes a look at the staling international and national approaches, but a simultaneous need for countries to signal their climate change efforts. I expected more of these partnerships to be popping up and may be the beginning of an odd, but effective collection of bilateral partnerships that move the climate change agenda ahead in a roundabout way.