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California, China Sign Climate Deal After Trump's Paris Exit

June 6, 2017 1:20 p.m.

California, China Sign Climate Deal After Trump's Paris Exit


David Siders, senior reporter, POLITICO

Related Story: California, China Sign Climate Deal After Trump's Paris Exit


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Governor Jerry Brown had an unexpected meeting with China's president today. Brown knew his weeklong visit to China would include conferences with many top local officials for China's president really needs with anyone who is not a president or prime minister. That seems to add to the importance that the claimant agreement is taking on. Brown is hoping to forge new alliances on clean energy and electric vehicles with Chinese provinces as Washington steps back from international climate action. Then Bradford reports.
Brown spent his first three days in a pleasure -- blizzard of meetings. He met with heads of some of China's most populous regions. He met with ministers and even the Chinese President. There's no real discussion or negotiation in the stocks. Is more ceremonial. Brown and the Chinese officials said in the center of a partially carpeted conference room with a small table between them flanked by and exactly the will number of staff to hear general statements about collaboration through translators
California has been premier in the new [Indiscernible].
And they exchange gifts.
The meetings often and with the agreements to work together. They are nonbinding which is typical and also true of the Paris agreement and also Brown's climate change coalition. And and April coalition University climate scientists said it makes it hard to judge the effects.
The devil is always in the details. Whether they will be able to actually follow through on their plans to report back.
The Governor's office says they will not know the cost of the trip until after but you can bet Brown gallivanting halfway around the globe with 200 staff at the same time as he is proposing slowing state spending will be fodder for critics.
No conversation.
Brown says it is a necessary step to open the way for concrete actions.
How do you do anything when you have hundreds of millions of people. You have to have paper and you have to have scientists and bureaucrats and the need lawyers.
There is one lawyer -- area where they have made a specific plea and nearly all of the meetings.
We need to join with Chinese companies to produce better batteries more efficient batteries and my electric cars.
California has a goal of putting 1 1/2 million electric cars on the roads by 2025 about six times the current number and that will buy less expensive batteries. The China Center for transportation at UC Davis happened to be on our train to Beijing. There is one immediate practical application for Chinese companies that want to compete in the US market.
[Indiscernible-heavy accent].
Now they can have government statements to support that.
They have something over their head so they can say I'm following the government's agreement.
A statement like this from the minister --
I hope Governor Brown can someday said in that [Indiscernible] reproducing California.
That can open the door for Chinese company to bring my electric vehicle to California for the Governor dissident. With the California delegation in Beijing I am then Bradford.
20 me for Morris David Siders Senior reporter covering California. We are talking with him via Skype. How big of a deal is the mini between the Chinese President and Governor Brown?
Has met with him two or three times before. That had a relationship and it is a big deal in China than it is here. This is a country were protocol really matters. As you heard from been in that report many of these meetings are set up really formal meetings that may be do not carry so much weight in the United States. I think they do have some significance in China.
He met with Governor Brown but did not meet with Rick Perry the secretary of energy who was also at the local conference.
To know that they discussed
They met for about 45 minutes and spoke about green technology innovation and technology in general. And sharing information.
Despite pulling out of the parent agreement we hurt California signing its own nonbinding deals with provinces.
What sort of agreement as he making?
I will say for the past three or four years he's been making nonbinding [Indiscernible] around the world. The range from things like scientists who share information I cap and trade and things like is under two you initiative which has 170 mostly subnational [Indiscernible] to make steps to limit emissions.
I guess it would be odd to some people that Governor Brown is China as apartment. China is the world's top greenhouse gas polluter and the largest funder of new coal power projects. Why China?
It's interesting. The last time the governor went over there he was on cruises with his is in this guy. I think the mission in China is the same that it is anywhere in the ground. It is California them no matter what the different greenhouse gas emissions it represents something like 1% of world emissions. The only way that California or Jerry Brown has significant on the world stage and makes different is whatever they are doing their helps bring other places along. He sees China both as a partner but also as a target. He views this as an X essential -- as an existential threat. If the world is going to fight climate change it needs to happen in places like China.
Governor Brown went with a crew of roughly about 200 people at the strip. He traveled with him a few years ago. How is that different than what this trip is sounding like?
California was coming out of its recession. Jerry Brown had not traveled internationally very much. He traveled in the business delegation was much more [Indiscernible] but also there was much talk about trade and high-speed rail. It is focused almost exclusively on climate. We are not seeing the other side interest. I think this goes in agriculture groups went along. We do not see that in this trip.
People see this on the heels of President Trump withdrawing from the Paris records. One may think this is a showcase. What is this trip really say about California's place as an emerging international player.
I think many years ago subnational's and the climate changed space would've been looked at in a sign that MO use.
When they see Trump withdrawing in the United States there is a growing but even before Trump's election. Provinces and regions can play a bigger role in greenhouse gas reductions. I think there is some real movement there but. It is clearly an opportunity. On the other hand it's not like he had a deficit of legacy on climate for Trump made his announcement. If there is a gain I think it is incremental.
Governor Brown has left for this trip. We need to have a budget signed and resolved. Is there any criticism he has received for making this trip at this time.
I spoke with the speechwriter and asked about the possible political blowback. Jerry Brown's approval rating is so high in the state he could essentially go back and dance on tables for the week. He can come back and not have much political fallout. There is always the risk of timing when the governor goes abroad that a disaster could happen the budget could fall apart something in the week that would create a problem for him. At least three days in that is not happening and I just do not see -- for a politician to California to be [Indiscernible] can only be good for a Democrat in California. Is
To have any information about how this trip is being perceived by the Trump administration?
They gave an interview with the New York Times saying that Jerry Brown was being the aggressor. We have not seen tweets for the president at least not yet.
I've been speaking with David Siders Senior reporter covering California with political thank you.