The recent news about the US-China Climate Change pact is still reverberating around diplomatic, policy and activist circles. Reception is mixed, although generally positive.
As Bill KcKibben points out, while the agreement isn’t binding or particularly ambitious in light of the hole we’ve managed to put ourselves in, it is truly historic in that it represents the first time a developing nation has publicly committed to eventually peaking and reducing emissions.
A Step Toward a Global Climate Deal
In October of 2014, Bioneers convened a key gathering, the Bioneers California Climate Leadership Summit, to examine the role that cities, states and regions play in making progress towards averting a climate crisis.
As we move forward on the road to Paris, the US-China pact is certainly a step in the right direction and builds support and momentum towards a global climate deal. Regardless of the outcome of the UN process, however, action at the city, state and regional level will continue to be of primary importance. The China agreement indicates as much, with one of the six planks focused exclusively on the launch of a Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Initiative.
As Tom Hayden, our partner in organizing the October summit, writes in his initial analysis of the agreement, “regional grass-roots strategies” have been key to building the foundation for this agreement.
We learned as much during the recent Bioneers-hosted California Climate Leadership Summit, when Wade Crowfoot, Senior Advisor to Governor Brown, discussed his experience working with Governor Brown developing sub-national climate agreements with the Chinese over the past several years.
“The Chinese Totally Get It”
“I had the opportunity to staff the Governor in China and have done a lot of the follow-up work with the Chinese. The Chinese totally get it.
“What’s refreshing is that you go to China and there’s no debate about whether climate change exists or who is creating climate change. They’re always very good about reminding us that we have that debate in our country. But, as Tom Hayden said, they’re trying to raise over a billion people out of poverty. And the prosperity that you and I enjoy on a daily basis was built, in part, on hundreds of years of fossil fuel usage.
“From our perspective in California, if China and India and other ‘developing economies’ are going to pursue a low carbon pathway, we have to do that with them. It can’t be something imposed on them and it can’t be a decision about economic growth versus environmental stewardship.
“We think that California can continue to be a model that will show the world what we can do—and at the same time partner with other countries to actually help their efforts.”
Watch Wade Crowfoot’s entire keynote address here:
More Videos: California Climate Leadership Summit
Led by innovative states, cities and sub-national regional networks, the policies and models for how to move forward on the climate crisis are beginning to emerge.