Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trade Leverages Carbon Caps

The recent China Trade agreement by the newly-established California China Trade Office in Shanghai illustrates why California's progress in dealing with carbon emissions - in concert with our huge Chinese business trading population in Southern California that lives part-time in China - is creating a situation where carbon emission reduction is OK with Wall Street and Main Street and an "economic formula" embedded in climate agreements is unnecessary. It's already going ahead without any of that, and the US Government is looking to California for this leadership, as my blog post from the other day talks about - using the REDD program for carbon offsets in foreign countries.

An LA Times article goes down a little further into the dynamics of this emerging relationship:

China is more open to help from California than from elsewhere, experts say.

"California is perceived in China as a leader in cleaning up the environment without any ulterior motive," said Yunshi Wang, director of the China Center for Energy and Transportation at UC Davis. "If these requests or demands come from Washington or Brussels, there's some attitude in China that it's some kind of effort to slow them down economically."

This, coming from the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet.

Positioning California to attract a growing share of China’s massive foreign investment pool and bolstering California-China trade, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the Bay Area Council and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) opened the California-China Office of Trade and Investment. This is the official public-private program  between the State of California and China, and it follows more than a year of significant diplomatic and business exchanges between the two entities. China has been investing in California businesses and properties for years, and this agreement is a formalization of that relationship.

Outlined in the California Newswire are some of the specifics of the intent to establish non-binding carbon reduction goals:

To enhance cooperation in the area of low carbon development and based on the Memorandum of Understanding to Enhance Cooperation on Climate Change, Energy and Environment between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the United States of America signed in July 2009, the Government of Guangdong Province and the Government of the State of California have reached the following understandings:

1. Purpose
This purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to support efforts between the Parties to help each achieve its low carbon development goals. This MOU establishes a fundamental framework for the Participants to carry out pragmatic exchange and cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual benefits and is not intended to give rise to legal binding rights or obligations.

This unique carbon-trade aspect of the trade agreement is meant to provide the means by which China can develop its clean technologies and infrastructure via a transfer of trade with the USA. The NRDC has been involved with developing this interlinked strategy for many years.

George Skelton takes issue with this relationship in The Capitol Journal, citing corruption and lack of accountability with infrastructure project in China. He doesn't feel that California should adopt their practices of steamroller development without citizen participation. I'd say we're already seeing that kind of thing here with development on the upswing and the economy in recovery. It remains to be seen how this relationship plays out.