China and California sign deal to work on climate change without Trump

Governor Jerry Brown says president’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris agreement will be only a temporary setback

China and California have signed an agreement to work together on reducing emissions, as the state’s governor warned that “disaster still looms” without urgent action on climate change.

The governor of California, Jerry Brown, spoke to reporters at an international clean energy conference in Beijing about Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris agreement, saying it would ultimately prove to be only a temporary setback.

For now, he said, China, European countries and individual US states would fill the gap left by the federal government’s decision to abdicate leadership on the issue.

“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. “Disaster still looms and we’ve got to make the turn.”

Brown later held a closed-door meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, during which the two pledged to expand trade between California and China with an emphasis on so-called green technologies that could help address climate change, Brown said. Trump’s announcement last week that he wanted to pull out of the Paris accord did not come up, according to the governor.

“Xi spoke in very positive terms,” Brown told reporters after the meeting. “I don’t think there’s any desire to get into verbal battles with President Trump.”

Trump’s decision drew heavy criticism within the US and internationally, including in China, which swiftly recommitted itself to the agreement forged with the administration of the former US president Barack Obama. Trump argued that the Paris agreement favoured emerging economies such as China’s and India’s at the expense of US workers.

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Chinese president Xi Jinping meets visiting California governor Jerry Brown to discuss a climate deal. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

 

Tuesday’s agreement between California and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology effectively sidestepped Trump’s move, bringing about alignment on an issue of rising global importance between the world’s second-largest economy — China — and California, whose economy is the largest of any U.S. state and the sixth largest in the world.

Brown signed similar collaboration agreements over the past several days with leaders in two Chinese provinces, Jiangsu and Sichuan.

Like the Paris accord, the deals are all non-binding. They call for investments in low-carbon energy sources, cooperation on climate research and the commercialisation of cleaner technologies. The agreements do not establish new emission reduction goals.

The US has long been a major player in the clean energy arena, driving innovations in electric cars, renewable power and other sectors of the industry. California, with some of the strictest climate controls in the nation, has been at the forefront of the sector.

China in recent years overtook the US as the world leader in renewable power development. But it has also struggled to integrate its sprawling wind and solar facilities into an electricity grid still dominated by coal-fuelled power plants.

At the same time, Chinese leaders face growing public pressure at home to reduce the health-damaging smog that blankets many urban areas.

China is by far the world’s largest user of coal, which accounts for almost two-thirds of its energy use and has made it the No 1 emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Communist party leaders pledged that greenhouse gas emissions would peak no later than 2030 under the Paris pact, and start to fall after that. They have cancelled the planned construction of more than 100 new coal-fired power plants and plan to invest at least $360bn in green energy projects by the end of the decade.

The nation’s consumption of coal fell in 2016 for a third consecutive year, but rebounded slightly in 2017. It could meet its 2030 target a decade early.

Published in The Guardian 7 June 2017

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California redwoods license plate dies for lack of interest

A proposed new license plate to raise money for California’s state parks system won’t be printed. It needed 7,500 pre-paid orders by May 18, 2017 and failed to hit that target.

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Millions of Californians visit the state’s majestic redwood forests every year. Their love for the venerable trees, however, apparently doesn’t extend to their license plates.

A four-year campaign to raise money for California’s state parks system with a new commemorative license plate featuring redwood trees has failed for lack of support.

Under state law, new specialty license plates need 7,500 pre-purchased orders before the Department of Motor Vehicles will produce them. And when the deadline passed last Thursday, the parks plate had sold only 2,581.

People who pre-ordered a specialized license plate will get a refund, state parks officials said Monday.

“Though this unique opportunity to support California’s state parks faltered, we are grateful for the public support of California’s amazing natural and cultural resources, and we encourage everyone to continue visiting their state parks,” said Gloria Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the state parks department.

The state parks plates cost $50 for the first one issued and $40 each year after, and for personalized plates, $98 for the first one and $78 each year after.

California has 12 specialty license plates on the road. They include a Yosemite plate that has raised $19.6 million for projects in Yosemite National Park; a recently approved Snoopy plate that raises money for California museums; a whale-tail plate that has generated $26.5 million for coastal programs; and a veterans plate that has raised $12.7 million for military veterans programs.

Together, they have raised a combined $217 million over the years, with the KIDS plate, featuring a small hand, generating the most — 61.9 million for child abuse prevention and children’s health issues.

The redwoods plate was designed by Wyn Ericson, an artist and middle school teacher in Napa County. Ericson’s work won first prize in a contest in November 2015 to select the best design. The plate was originally authorized under a law that passed in 2012, and pushed by former state Assemblyman Jared Huffman of Marin County, who now is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Various theories for why the redwoods plate failed have circulated privately among its supporters, including failure to mount a sustained public relations campaign; the fact that Southern Californians may not identify with redwoods, a Northern California tree, as much as Northern California residents do; and the fact that Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a 12-cent gas tax increase to fund highway and road repairs.

The redwoods plate isn’t the first environmentally themed plate this year to die, however.

A plate designed to raise money for environmental restoration at the Salton Sea — a vast inland body of water in Imperial and Riverside counties — died earlier this year when it sold only 151 copies, according to the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs.

 

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A proposal to create a new license plate to help fund environmental restoration at the Salton Sea in Imperial and Riverside counties in the Southern California desert failed in the spring of 2017 when it did not reach the required number of 7,500 pre-purchases

written by , published in The Mercury News 22 May 2017