GUANGZHOU, China - In a cab ride this morning through the muggy streets of Guangzhou, Thomas Peterson, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Center for Climate Strategies, acknowledged skepticism in China about the friendly agreements government officials sign promising to combat climate change.
The country is the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, and while Gov. Jerry Brown is in the country promoting greenhouse gas reduction policies, pollution fills the skies. Brown and members of his trade mission took a cruise on Saturday down the Huangpu River in Shanghai, where an army of barges ferried coal down the river earlier in the day.
Yet good may come of an agreement signed today between California state officials and representatives of Guangdong, a South Chinese province of about 105 million people, said Peterson, whose group helped develop the accord. The non-binding agreement calls for cooperation in efforts to increase energy conservation, to expand the use of green energy and to promote carbon-reducing technologies, among other things.
Peterson cited the establishment of a working group of state and provincial officials as evidence of the agreement's seriousness. Local officials in China - not the federal government - are likely to drive any action on the climate change, experts say. If progress is made here, the example could spread throughout China.
At a signing ceremony at the Dong Fang Hotel, Zhu Xiaodan, the provincial governor, said through an interpreter that as a result of Brown's visit "a new chapter is being opened to strengthen ties and more concrete cooperation between Guangdong and California in various aspects."
Brown praised efforts in Guangdong to reduce the use of carbon fuels, in part through advances in battery technology.
Brown is in the final days of a week-long trade mission to China. He is scheduled to travel from Guangzhou to Shenzhen on Tuesday, before returning Wednesday to California.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown meets with Zhu Xiaodan, governor of China's Guangdong province, at the Dong Fang Hotel in Guangzhou on Monday, April 15, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee