California Governor Gavin Newsom is currently in China with the goal of maintaining relations between the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases. This initiative follows in the footsteps of his predecessors, Governors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also sought to use California’s economic and cultural influence to close the world’s climate change gaps. However, since Brown left office five years ago, many changes have taken place.
Relations between the United States and China have worsened, even as the United States recommitted to reducing emissions under President Joe Biden. China has become a major player in the electric vehicle industry, dominating global sales as well as securing the minerals needed to power these vehicles. Republicans in Congress have become increasingly hostile to any partnership with Beijing, seizing on China’s dominance in these industries to criticize Biden’s climate policies.
Despite these challenges, California sees export as important to its climate policies, despite its small contribution to global carbon emissions. Newsom acknowledged that collaboration and cooperation between the United States and China is essential to making significant progress on climate change. California’s efforts to maintain good relations with China are supported by Brown, who now directs the California-China Climate Institute at UC Berkeley.
Brown stated that the upcoming meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Biden in San Francisco could lead to a thaw in relations. Meanwhile, California remains committed to climate action.
Newsom faced many challenges during his visit to China. It must navigate the changing landscape of US-China relations, taking into account the changing policies of the Biden administration while maintaining its autonomy. The Republican Party has become increasingly hostile to China, using any cooperation with Beijing to challenge Biden’s climate spending. Congress has focused its attention on criticizing China, as Brown experienced during his own visit to the country.
Relations between the United States and China have been strained by issues beyond climate change, including trade disputes and tensions over Taiwan. However, recent visits by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and several senators, as well as the possible meeting between Xi and Biden, have created an opportunity for Newsom. Brown believes the current moment offers an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration.
California has a history of policy exchanges with China, including helping promote China’s zero-emission car mandate and reducing Beijing’s air pollution. However, China’s development in the production and transfer of electric cars has led to trade conflicts. However, California can still learn from China’s progress in the clean energy sector.
Overall, Newsom’s visit to China is an important step in preserving the US-China climate relationship, despite the challenges that exist. Collaboration and cooperation between the two countries is essential to address the global climate crisis.