Gov. Newsom Goes to China to Talk Climate
Here’s what Newsom will see, say, and do on his China trip. He should also be listening for what California can learn from China.
We’re learning more about what Gov. Gavin Newsom will see, say, and do on his trip to China. All told, Newsom is slated to visit 6 cities in 5 provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Shanghai—where he’s signing a new climate agreement. He plans to meet with representatives from the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and the Environment in Beijing, as well as local officials. The trip is entirely focused on climate talks.
Newsom should also do some deep listening, as my colleague Alex Wang wrote in this Op Ed for the Los Angeles Times titled “What California Gov. Gavin Newsom Can Learn from China’s Response to Climate Change.”
Yes, the governor was the talk of the town at NY Climate Week where he announced several big California climate initiatives. He even got to address the U.N. General Assembly while representatives from the United States, UK, and others were not allowed to speak. That was great for spotlighting California’s lawsuit against Big Oil, the corporate climate disclosure package that just passed, and the state’s recently announced Subnational Methane Action Initiative.
But “it would be a mistake for him to focus exclusively on what China has to learn from California,” Wang writes. Here’s more:
“California’s climate ambitions will be met only by deploying clean energy and transportation on an unprecedented scale, and China has a lot to offer on that score. Strong industrial policy and fiscal support for renewable energy, paired with ever more ambitious targets for clean energy deployment, have brought the country to this point. China is also a world leader on offshore wind energy production, an area Newsom has sought to emphasize in California. In addition, China has pushed a variety of consumer incentives and strengthened regulations that make electric vehicles easier to buy and drive than gas guzzlers. Not all of the Chinese government’s approaches will be palatable in California, but many will.”
China has moved remarkably fast at electrifying their transportation fleet. As of last year, Chinese drivers had purchased a cumulative total of 13.8 million electric vehicles, with sales in 2022 accounting for 29% of all auto sales in China. That’s why Newsom’s expected to visit a Tesla factory that has pumped out 2 million cars since opening in 2019. Don’t be surprised if you see the California delegation mugging for the camera on some electric buses when they stop in Shenzhen, the first city in the world to fully transition to electric buses.
Newsom will have multiple stops along the way to listen—and talk. (The details of his trip are here.) He is in Beijing on October 26 for a “Great Wall Climate Dialogue,” a convening of leaders from California and China. He’ll be in Shanghai on October 28 where a reception is being held in his honor. He’ll be accompanied by his climate adviser, Lauren Sanchez, as well as representatives from California industry and environmental groups, a spokesperson told Politico. Blanca Begert at Politico also reports that Newsom will renew four climate-related agreements established by former Gov. Jerry Brown and that he will sign a fresh one of his own with Shanghai.
Newsom also stops in Hong Kong, the first city in Asia to require businesses to disclose their carbon emissions — similar to SB 253 that he signed this month covering businesses in California. He also just signed legislation to boost the Golden State’s offshore wind power and that’s another area where China leads the world. So, when he goes birdwatching in Yangcheng, he’s likely to be watching wind turbines too.
As for cooperation, Wang goes on to highlight one possible area: methane mitigation. Both California and China have work to do on that front. Prodding each other along under the framework of California’s subnational initiative seems promising because on that front, as Wang writes, “every state and country has room to improve and reason to do so quickly.”