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California pledges environmental cooperation with China province

April 15, 2013|By Anthony York
  • The environment has been a centerpiece of California Gov. Jerry Brown's week in China. Brown, left, exchanges a memorandum of understanding with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao after a signing ceremony at a Beijing hotel.
The environment has been a centerpiece of California Gov. Jerry Brown's… (Andy Wong / Associated Press )

GUANGZHOU, China – As the pollution blanketed this southern city like a thick, toxic fog, California’s environmental protection secretary signed an accord with his counterpart in China’s most populous province to “help each achieve its low-carbon development goals.”

With Gov. Jerry Brown looking on, California EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez signed the accord Monday along with Li Chunhong, director general  of the Guangdong Development and Reform Commission, vowing to work with local Chinese officials on cutting pollution.

The environment has been a centerpiece of Brown’s week in China. And as the trip winds down, Monday’s event caps what Brown hopes will be a relationship that will yield tangible results in the fight to protect the environment.

A partnership with this southern province, China’s manufacturing hub and most populous province with more than 109 million people, seems a natural fit for California. Guangdong is also at the forefront of China’s environmental efforts as one of two provinces, along with Chonqing, where Chinese officials are experimenting with ways to reduce carbon emissions.

What happens here could ultimately become a blueprint for pollution reduction across China.

As part of those efforts, the country has designated Guangdong as a pilot province to establish a carbon-trading market to help curb its greenhouse gas output. California has embarked on a similar experiment, which seeks to curb overall pollution and gives big polluters an opportunity to buy the right to pollute more if they buy credits from lower emitters.

Nonprofit groups in China and the United States want to ensure Monday’s signing is more than just rhetoric. Thomas Peterson, president of the Center for Climate Strategies in Washington, D.C., was on hand to witness the signing and said his groups will be working closely with nongovernmental officials in China to work toward reducing carbon emissions here.

His group has been working with the Chinese government to “help them sort through what to do and how to do it” when it comes to cutting carbon. “What they decide to do [in Guangdong],” he said, “determines what they will do upstairs.”

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anthony.york@latimes.com

@anthonyyorklat

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