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On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology agreed to work together on climate issues. The governor pledged to work with China to push forward clean energy technology like carbon capture and storage, emissions trading, and other “climate positive” efforts, according to Reuters. The news comes just a week after US President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement.
A press release on the governor’s website added that Brown also signed an agreement with Jiangsu Province, home to 80 million people, to work together on “clean energy technology to help improve and advance energy efficiency and storage, renewable energy, grid modernization, zero-emission vehicles and low-carbon urban development.”
Brown is in China this week and attended a Clean Energy Forum on Tuesday in Beijing. Reuters wrote that Brown has called President Trump’s recent Paris Agreement decision “insane,” and in a speech today, he criticized policy makers that were “resisting reality.” Brown apparently told reporters at the Beijing forum that the failure of leadership from the US was “only temporary.”
Reuters also noted that “US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who was at the same conference, declined to take questions from reporters.”
Brown’s agreement with Jiangsu Province (PDF) will also open the possibility of developing an emissions trading market that works with California’s emissions trading system. China is set to implement a carbon trading program this year, and California has an ongoing cap-and-trade program that’s linked to the program in Quebec, Canada. However, the pledge to link with China’s market may be a formality for now. Ma Aimin, a deputy director general of China’s National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, told Reuters that “It will be a long time before there is true cooperation with California, whose market is just at a regional stage and is hard to link up with the Chinese market.”
Big state, big plans
Brown’s trip comes at a time when California seems to have renewed political will to forge ahead on renewable energy. Last week, the state’s Senate voted 25 to 13 to pass a bill that would increase the amount of renewably sourced electricity that public utilities have to sell—reaching 100-percent renewable energy by 2045.
Currently, California law mandates tiers for renewable energy penetration in the state; the 2016 goal was for 25 percent of retail electricity sales to be renewably sourced. But California hit its 2016 goal handily, with 27 percent of electricity retail sales being renewably sourced in 2016 (PDF). The subsequent renewable goals are 33-percent renewably sourced electricity by 2020, 40 percent by 2024, 45 percent by 2027, and 50 percent by 2030.
But the new bill would make these tiers more aggressive, directing public utilities to hit a 50-percent renewable resources target by December 31, 2026, a 60-percent target by December 31, 2030, and “for all electricity sold at retail to be generated by eligible renewable energy resources by December 31, 2045.” Hawaii is the only state in the nation with a renewable energy goal as ambitious as that. It also wants to hit 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. In 2016, 26 percent of Hawaii’s electricity sales were renewably sourced.
The California Senate also passed a bill last week that would provide $1.4 billion in rebates for residential energy storage, according to Utility Dive.
That bill and the bill mandating 100 percent renewably sourced electricity now go to a vote in the state Assembly. It’s not a given that these bills will pass—California has struggled this year to address negative pricing and imbalances in the electricity market that have made regulators worry about upsetting the boat too much with new renewable energy—but if they do pass, it would send a signal about the urgency with which lawmakers are willing to address climate change.