Trade war 'a temporary problem,' California governor says at global climate summit

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Caixin Media, San Francisco

California Governor Jerry Brown spoke at the opening session of the China Pavilion, a three-day gathering on the sidelines of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco / Credit: Chen Zhou

California Governor Jerry Brown welcomed delegates and attendees to a global climate change summit this week in San Francisco with some words of advice: "Don't just celebrate, indulge in California's red wine," he said, don't forget about "our crisis situation" and the risks to the future.

Gov. Brown spoke Sept. 12 at the opening of the China Pavilion, a three-day event tied to the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) that brought together more than 120 Chinese business leaders, provinces, cities and civil society groups to discuss efforts to address climate change and advance international cooperation. 

The Chinese delegation is the largest national delegation to participate in the summit, Brown said.

Leaders and participants from around the world have gathered at the GCAS under the tagline “Take Ambition to the Next Level." That means promoting faster and deeper implementation of commitments governemnts have made to keep climate change in check and accelerate actions needed to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

In June 2017, US President Donald Trump officially announced that the United States would withdraw from that landmark agreement, making the United States an outlier among counties that have united to support the goals of the Paris pact. Amid resistance from Washington, however, several state leaders, including GCAS co-chairs Gov. Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, published a signed article in the "Los Angeles Times" noting that more than 3,000 US cities, states, businesses and universities -- accounting for more than half the US population and with an econoimc output equivilent to the world's third-largest economy -- are continuing to work toward fulfilling their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

They're united in their efforts through an initiative called "America's Pledge," under which they have been stepping up their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and, as the letter reads, "move towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, just as the rest of the world is doing."

Having California's commitment to such efforts matters, Brown said, because while California is only one state in a country of 50, it has become the world's fifth-largest economy after the United States, China, Japan and Germany.

"California is an important part of the United States," Brown said. "If California is taken out, the United States is not the world's largest economy. So we are not small potatos."

Regarding China-US cooperation on climate change, Brown told Caixin that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been encouraging cooperation with California and other places and is very supportive of the GCAS.

"Even if there are many problems, I believe we can still increase friendship and cooperation with each other," Brown said.

In a speech, Brown said that the challenge of climate change can be dealt with through new technologies and changes in people's lifestyles. That requires a lot of money from countries and close cooperation. 

"Everyone likes low carbon, but I prefer zero carbon emissions, even negative carbon emissions," he said. California aims to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045 in part by looking to what countries like China are doing to achieve similar targets.

"Trying to cope with these challenges also gives us the motivation to inspire our innovation," Brown added.

Car manufacturing is one sector where the potential for cooperation is partiucularly promising. 

"American car manufacturers especially like gasoline cars. They like cars as big as possible. The more fuel they consume, the better. But we need zero-carbon cars," Brown said.

"There are already 1.5 million electric cars in China. We hope China can have 100 million," he continued. "We need at least 5 million in California, we need to tell automakers to make and sell more electric cars. California is committed to doing this, and other states will follow. If China and other countries are working hard, we can achieve our goals."

To achieve the goal of zero emissions, US and European car manufacturers can look to meet demand from China for more electric vehicles, Brown told Caixin Media. In addition, China can invent and commercialize clean technologies through partnerships with California companies and scientists.

Trade war troubles?

Would the brewing trade war between China and the United States affect the import and export of new energy vehicles or exchanges between Chinese and American companies?

Brown said the trade war is only a temporary issue.

We call it a problem, but we still work together to find a way [toward] cooperation," he said. "So Trump is only one part, and then there will be something else after Trump. So we need patience and we need imagination and we need perseverance in working together, China and many different parts of America."

Former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore said in a speech at the China Pavilion that according to US law, if Americans choose a new president in the next presidential election in 2020, then the new administration would still have time to announce the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement.

Brown admited that there have been problems between China and the United States in the past and will be in the future. 

But while the two countries are currently facing serious obstacles involving tariffs and concerns over intellectual property rights, Brown said he believes that President Xi Jinping hopes for more cooperation.

"He has been encouraging cooperation with places like California and is very supportive of this summit," the governor said. "Despite the difficulties, by jointly addressing the challenges of climate change and sharing the results of scientists and other experts, we will have a common way forward and increase our friendship and cooperation."

Xie Zhenhua, special representative of China's climate change affairs, said in the opening speech at the China Pavilion that the cooperation between China and the United States on climate change will win.

"I talked with Governor Brown for nearly two hours yesterday afternoon," Xie said. "We all believe that under the current situation of China-US relations, we can find the benefits of the two countries at all levels and benefit the development of both countries. Both countries can achieve win-win cooperation areas and cooperation projects, we will continue to work together for the consensus we have reached."

The path forward

When Brown, a Democrat, became the 34th governor of California in 1975, he was still a young bachelor. Now, at the age of 80, he is nearing retirement. During his decades in politics, Brown served as Governor of California (twice), state attorney general, Mayor of Oakland, Secretary of State of California, President of California's Democratic Party and ran as a candidate for president three times. Because of term limits, he cannot participate in the next gubernatorial general election to be held in November. In an interview with "The New York Times," Brown also said that he was ready to retire.

But at the meeting of the GCAS, he sounded less set on retirement, saying that ensuring a victory for the Democratic Party in the next round of elections "is very important."

In fact, Brown, like may of the state and local leaders at the GCAS, had plenty of criticism for President Trump, who recently announced regulations that would encourage more methane emissions.

"This is crazy," Brown said. "Humans need to reduce methane emissions ... Reducing methane emissions can give the world more time to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and Trump's behavior is the most dangerous and irresponsible.

Such attacks are common in US politics, the former vice-president of Tsinghua University, He Jiankun, told Caixin. And while Brown has been actively promoting climate change action, his power is limited, He said. 

What's notable, however, is that the cooperation between China and California is mainly between enterprisesthink tanks, non-governmental organizations and/or foundations, said He who along with Gov. Brown jointly unveiled the "China-US Climate Change Institute" in Tsinghua University last year. 

Cooperation at those levels will not change if Brown retires, He said. California has long been governed by Democratic Party politicians, who tend to support more environmentally friendly policies, and the chances that a Republican governor who shares Trump's view of the environment winning the governorship of California were slim, He said.

He also believed Brown's comment about not wanting to "retire" sent a good signal.

"If you are not a governor any more, you can promote climate change as a former political figure and social activist. Just like Gore, you can do a lot of things. You can give speeches everywhere," said He.

"But as a former politician, it is hard to say how big the future influence can be." ■

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

 

【财新网】(特派旧金山记者 周辰)“我们来到加州,不要只顾着庆祝,沉醉于加州的红酒,忘了我们危机四伏的现状,和充满风险的未来,”2018年9月12日至14日,全球气候行动峰会(GCAS)在美国加利福尼亚州旧金山市举办,峰会东道主加州州长布朗(Edmund G. Brown Jr.)在9月12日上午来到中国角开幕式会场,欢迎了从中国远道而来的120多名与会者,他表示,中国代表团是参与此次峰会最大的国家代表团。

  在GCAS期间,来自世界各地的领导人和与会者汇聚一堂,共同致力于 “将目标提升至新的水平” ( Take Ambition to the Next Level)。全球各国、地区、城市、企业、投资者和民众在加州的烈日骄阳下共同庆祝所取得的气候成就,并推动各国更迅速和深入地实践承诺和加速行动,实现《巴黎协定》制定的目标。

  2017年6月,美国总统特朗普正式宣布美国退出应对气候变化的《巴黎协定》,使美国成为世界上唯一不支持该协定的国家。但近日GCAS的几位联合主席,包括加州州长布朗和前纽约市长布隆博格在《洛杉矶时报》发表署名文章称,自白宫宣布有意退出《巴黎协定》以来,已有3000多个美国城市、州、企业和其他团体宣布将继续履行对《巴黎协定》的承诺。他们正在通过一项名为“美国誓言(America's Pledge)”的倡议来追踪这项进展。这个群体占美国总人口的一半以上,从经济总量来说,相当于世界第三大经济体。他们一直在加大行动,以减少碳排放,朝着《巴黎协定》的目标前进,就像世界其他地方一样。

  布朗表示,虽然加州只是美国的一个州,但已经成为美国、中国、日本、德国之后的全球第五大经济体,“加州是美国重要的一部分,如果把加州拿出来,美国就不是全球最大经济体了,”他说,“所以我们不是个小人物 (small potatoes),我们是大人物。”

  关于中美合作应对气候变化的问题,布朗告诉财新记者,中国国家主席习近平一直在鼓励与加州等地的合作,并且很支持此次气候行动峰会,“即使存在很多问题,我相信我们仍然可以增加彼此之间的友谊和合作。”

  布朗在GCAS中国角发表的演讲中表示,气候变化的挑战可以通过新技术、新科技和人们生活方式的变化来应对,这需要各个国家投入大量资金,并紧密合作。他宣布加州将会在2045年之前实现零排放,“大家都喜欢低碳,但我更喜欢零碳排放,甚至负碳排放,这不更好么?我们可以把这些二氧化碳都封存起来,我们还没想到好的办法,但是中国或许可以想到。努力应对这些挑战的同时也给予我们动力,可以激发我们的创新力。”

  “美国的汽车制造商特别喜欢汽油车,他们喜欢车子越大越好,耗油越多越好,但是我们需要的是零碳排的车,中国已经有150万辆电动车,我们希望中国能有1亿辆,我们加州至少需要500万辆,我们需要告诉汽车制造商,让他们制造和销售更多的电动车,”布朗举例称,“加州要承诺做到这一点,其他几个州也会跟着承诺,中国等其他国家也都努力的话,我们就能实现目标。”

  在会后财新等媒体参与的对布朗的群访中,布朗介绍,为实现零碳排的目标,中国可以向所有希望在中国销售汽车的制造商提出更多电动汽车需求,包括让美国汽车制造商和欧洲汽车制造商生产更多的电动汽车。其次,中国可以与加州的企业和科学家一起发明和商业化清洁技术。

  财新记者问布朗,中美之间的贸易战是否会影响新能源汽车的进出口和中美企业之间的交流?布朗表情凝重地回答说,贸易战只是一个暂时性的问题,“我们称之为问题,但我们仍然共同努力寻找合作方式。它是辩证法的一部分,你听说过黑格尔的辩证法吗?如果你研究马克思主义就知道辩证法,所以特朗普只是其中的一部分,特朗普迟早也会成为过去式。因此我们需要耐心,需要想象力,我们需要坚持不懈地共同努力。”

  原美国副总统,诺贝尔和平奖获得者戈尔(Al Gore)也在中国角的讲话中也表示,按照美国的法律,如果美国人能在下一任总统选举中选出一个新总统,那么他(她)依旧来得及宣布美国重返《巴黎协定》。

  布朗坦承,中美之间过去一直存在问题,将来也会遇到问题。目前两国虽然面对着关税和知识产权问题等严重障碍,但“我相信习近平主席希望更多的合作,他也一直在鼓励与加州等地的合作,并且很支持我们举办的这个峰会,因此尽管困难重重,通过共同应对气候变化的挑战并分享科学家和其他专家的成果,我们将有一条共同的前进道路,并且增加彼此之间的友谊和合作。”

  中国气候变化事务特别代表解振华也在中国角开幕式致辞中表示,中美两国在气候变化问题上的合作共赢,不会停摆。“昨天下午我和布朗州长谈了将近两个小时,我们共同认为在中美关系当前的形势之下,我们完全可以在各个层面找到对两国人民有利,对两国发展有利,两国都能够实现双赢的合作领域和合作项目,我们将为我们达成的共识一起继续努力。”

  今年80岁的布朗已经临近退休时刻,1975年他成为加利福尼亚州第34任州长时,还是一个年轻的单身汉,现今已入饕餮之年的他成为了加州最年长的州长,也是加州任职时间最长的州长。从政几十年间,布朗曾经担任过加州州长(两次)、总检察长、奥克兰市市长、国务卿、州民主党主席和总统候选人(三次)。因为任期限制,他不能参与将于2018年11月举行的下一任州长大选。在接受《纽约时报》采访时,布朗也表示自己已经做好了退休的准备,年轻的民主党人们也跃跃欲试准备接替他的岗位,年轻人觉得他太过中立保守。

  但在气候行动峰会的会场上,与财新记者聊到退休问题时,布朗表示:“不,我不会退休,你们的邓小平有说自己会在多少岁时退休么?”但他相信,共和党人特朗普“很快就会退休,民主党的胜利非常重要”。

  实际上,对美国总统特朗普,布朗从来没停止过批评和指责。他称特朗普是个“疯子”,“特朗普总统刚刚颁布或即将颁布鼓励更多甲烷排放的法规,这太疯狂了。不幸的是,他在国会的助手们可能会欢呼。”他表示,人类需要减少甲烷的排放,因为它的热量捕获量是二氧化碳的两倍多,减少甲烷排放可以让世界有更多的时间来减少二氧化碳排放,而特朗普的行为是最危险和最不负责任的。

  “布朗攻击特朗普也没什么用,就是美国的一种政治。”曾与布朗共同揭幕“中美气候变化研究院”的清华大学气候变化与可持续发展研究院学术委员会主任、清华大学原常务副校长何建坤告诉财新记者,布朗一直积极推进气候变化行动,但是他的权力有限,“不像中国的官员说干就能拿钱,他手里没钱,只能去找别人捐助,州政府一分钱也拿不出来。所以他推动的这些事要么是企业自己做,要么让基金会来帮助。”

  何建坤介绍,实际上中国和加州的合作主要还是民间的合作,包括企业和企业之间的,智库和智库之间的,NGO之间的,基金会之间的合作。这些合作不会因为布朗退位而改变,“除非上来一个特朗普一样的州长,但是这也不可能发生,因为加州是民主党的大本营,不可能是共和党人来当州长,所以环境友好的政策还是会持续下去。”

  “他不想退休是很好的,不做州长,可以以前政要、社会活跃人士的身份来推动气候变化,就像戈尔一样,还可以做很多事情,到处发表演讲,就看他影响力怎么样了”,何建坤说,“但作为一个前政治家,未来影响力能有多大也很难说。”■