All cli­mate change lo­cal: sum­mit

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By CHANG JUN in Los An­ge­les junechang@chi­nadai­

The bat­tle against cli­mate change starts on the lo­cal level, as city, state and pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials met for the first US-China Cli­mate Lead­ers Sum­mit on Tues­day in Los An­ge­les.

“We are ac­tu­ally pro­vid­ing these lead­ers across China and the US this op­por­tu­nity … to share with their coun­ter­parts their lessons and fail­ures, their suc­cess and ex­per­tise,” said Xie Zhen­hua, spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive on cli­mate change af­fairs at the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion of China.

Xie spoke at a press con­fer­ence dur­ing the two-day sum­mit, where of­fi­cials from both na­tions vowed to launch closer col­lab­o­ra­tion among cities, state and prov­inces across the Pa­cific and to re­tain strong mo­men­tum on cli­mate-change is­sues.

The sum­mit also looked to build on the his­toric joint an­nounce­ment by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in Bei­jing last Novem­ber. The cli­mate likely will be a topic dur­ing Xi’s state visit to the United States next week.

Rec­og­niz­ing the dif­fer­ences in so­cial sys­tems and de­vel­op­ment stages be­tween China and the US, lead­ers of the world’s two largest economies agreed last year that the US would re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions by 26 per­cent to 28 per­cent be­low its 2005 level by 2025, while China pledged to achieve its peak­ing of CO2 emis­sions around 2030 and to make best ef­forts to reach the goal sooner.

Todd Stern, spe­cial en­voy for cli­mate change at the US State Depart­ment, called the joint an­nounce­ment “his­toric” and said it has proven that the US and China can work to­gether to solve tough cli­mate is­sues.

“There are more than 100 na­tions in the cli­mate con­ver­sa­tion. Each of them count,” said Stern, adding that com­mu­ni­ca­tion and di­a­logue are the keys to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

With its theme of low-car­bon cities and smart cities, the sum­mit serves many pur­poses, Xie said.

“First, it pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate that both the US and China are step­ping up their ef­forts to im­ple­ment and ma­te­ri­al­ize the goals set in the joint an­nounce­ment,” he said, adding that the Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion is com­posed of 11 gover­nors and may­ors.

“Those cities have been en­listed in our na­tional low-car­bon pi­lot pro­gram and spread out from the coastal east to in­ner land west,” said Xie. “They are the pioneers to field-test new ideas and de­vel­op­ment mod­els by strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween eco­nomic growth, qual­ity of life and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

“Se­condly, we be­lieve the world’s big­gest de­vel­oped coun­try and the big­gest de­vel­op­ing coun­try can co­op­er­ate with each other and take con­crete ac­tions to tackle the cli­mate change prob­lems, and cre­ate win-win sit­u­a­tions for both,” said Xie, adding that the talks will help set the stage for the UN cli­mate con­fer­ence in Paris in De­cem­ber.

The achieve­ments the subna­tional lead­ers from both coun­ties have made “are in­spir­ing and very im­pres­sive,” Stern said.

Bei­jing and Guangzhou, for ex­am­ple, pledged to peak their emis­sions by 2020, 10 years ear­lier than the pro­jected na­tional tar­gets, said Stern.

The gover­nors of Cal­i­for­nia and Con­necti­cut at­tended the sum­mit, as well as may­ors from Los An­ge­les, Hous­ton, Seat­tle and Phoenix.

“Cal­i­for­nia is to re­duce emis­sions by 80 to 90 per­cent by 2050; Seat­tle vows to be­come car­bon-neu­tral by 2050, and Hous­ton is push­ing for­ward the us­age of clean energy and clean trans­porta­tion,” Stern said.

US Vice–Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and State Coun­cilor and Pres­i­dent Xi’s Spe­cial En­voy Yang Jiechi will at­tend the sum­mit’s clos­ing cer­e­mony on Wed­nes­day.

“Although we only have two days of ses­sions, I think the con­tent is con­crete and down to earth,” Xie said. “We will host in Bei­jing the next year the sec­ond US-China Cli­mate Lead­ers Sum­mit.”

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