(CN) – California forged ahead in its fight against climate change – despite reluctance from the federal government to commit taxpayer funds to a global climate policy – Tuesday as Gov. Jerry Brown signed an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to share technological advances in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing clean-energy alternatives.
The agreement calls for a five-year collaboration and mandates annual meetings between chosen representatives to share and discuss technology and efforts to provide renewable energy.
Brown signed similar agreements with leaders in two southern Chinese provinces earlier this week. The agreements, which are non-binding, call for greater investments in low-carbon energy sources and cooperation on climate research. The agreements do not establish restrictions on emissions, but rather function as a memorandum of understanding between California and China.
“California is the leading economic state in America and we are also the pioneering state on clean technology, cap-and-trade, electric vehicles and batteries, but we can’t do it alone,” Brown said during his meeting with Xi. “I have proposed that California will cut its greenhouse gases 40 percent below 1990 levels and that we’ll have 50 percent of our electricity from renewables. To keep that goal, we need a very close partnership with China – with your businesses, with your provinces, with your universities.”
California has the strictest standards in the nation for renewable energy and according to the California Energy Commission, the state is ahead of its goals. As of December 2016, 27 percent of the state’s energy production is considered “green.” Wind power leads the segment, accounting for 39 percent of energy production, followed by solar power at 23 percent.
China is the world’s greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, far exceeding the United States, largely due to its reliance on antiquated and inexpensive coal-fired energy. In recent years, China has scaled back construction of new coal plants and invested millions in alternative energy sources.
Last week, the California state Senate passed legislation that will – if passed by the Assembly and signed by the governor – require 100 percent of the energy produced in the state to come from renewable sources by 2045.
A key goal of the agreement Brown signed Tuesday is to align California’s controversial cap-and-trade carbon policy with that of China. Ma Aimin, deputy director general of the Chinese National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, said China’s goal is to address its own carbon issues.
“Despite China discussing for a long time about linking up with foreign markets, they are still at the stage of talking about it,” Ma said. “It will be a long time before there is true cooperation with California, whose market is just at a regional stage and is hard to link up with the Chinese market.”
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry also attended the summit, but did not answer questions. A Trump appointee, Perry advocates for both fossil fuel and clean energy: As governor of Texas, Perry signed legislation to greatly advance wind-power generation in the state.
But Perry has previously expressed doubt about the extent of human-caused global warming, calling climate change “unsettled” and “a contrived, phony mess.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Perry said, “I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity. The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs.”