Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California said Thursday he will discuss with Chinese officials a lofty goal of linking the world’s largest polluter with his state’s carbon trading markets.
Brown told reporters that he will meet with officials Friday in China to discuss the possibility of accepting the country into a pacific carbon market. The has become a virulent critic of President Donald Trump’s climate policies.
“I think that is a heavy lift to include Chinese provinces,” Brown said, noting the tough task of including a country the size of China into the relatively small carbon market. The communist country is the world’s largest emitter of carbon emissions, with the U.S. and India following close behind.
California’s complex system, known as cap and trade, is already linked to several states within the country, as well as Canada’s Quebec market.
Brown is currently trying to shove through the state’s legislature an update on the program – including China might entail creating a separate but supposedly equal program, according to the governor.
“Maybe we don’t put it right in the same cap-and-trade regime, maybe some parallel regime,” he added. “I am going to discuss that with the highest officials in China this week.”
Brown’s comments come after Trump moved to eliminate the highly contentious climate accord, a move that activists and Democrats called monstrous.
The non-binding agreement, which former President Barack Obama signed in 2015, commits each country in the deal to lower greenhouse gas emissions that scientists believe are causing man-made global warming. Nicaragua and the U.S. are among the handful of countries that have chosen to opt out of the agreement.
One analyst suggested that including China in the carbon market might not be unconstitutional, but it does give off the appearance that California is simply trying to send a message to the president.
Chris Horner, a senior fellow and legal scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that it is “unlikely” that California’s alliance “could do anything that would independently run afoul of the Compact Clause.”
He was referring to the clause in the Constitution prohibiting states from encroaching on the supremacy of the U.S. Horner, a climate skeptic who worked on Trump’s transition team, suggested the move appeared to be a “symbolic” move.
“We have seen this posturing, since the early post-Kyoto days, of states purporting to enter into climate non-aggression pacts with other nations, or however they want to style this particular acting out,” he said, noting a climate pact akin to the one Trump nixed.
Brown’s office has not responded to TheDCNF’s request for comments about the constitutionality of potentially allowing China into the alliance.
The governor’s visit to China is part of his big push to place climate change on the centerstage of national politics.
His push to update California’s cap and trade law comes on the tail end of an unpopular law passed in May that imposes a 12 cent per gallon increase on Californians, and raises the tax on diesel fuel by 20 cents per gallon. Republicans signed signatures for a recall effort against one of the Democrats who supported the bedraggled law.
The tax directs about $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to things such as public transportation and University of California research projects, among other things. Mark Dinger, a spokesman for California’s Depart of Transportation, admitted earlier this month that 30 percent of the funding will not go directly into the roads.
Some examples of the law’s non-road projects, Dinger added, are the $635 million set aside for transit rail projects, the $7 million for transportation research, and the $5 million allocated for workforce development grants.
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