Jerry Brown makes cosmic case for carbon reduction

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at Tsinghua University in Beijing on Thursday.
(Anthony York / Los Angeles Times)

BEIJING -- Gov. Jerry Brown used a stage at one of China’s most prestigious universities Thursday to make his pitch for environmental policies that he said could help reverse the global impacts of climate change and boost the economies of China and California.

Speaking at Tsinghua University, Brown boasted about the state’s record as an innovator on clean technology and government crackdowns on carbon emissions and said a deeper partnership between the state and Chinese government would be mutually beneficial.

“The industries and the countries that have taken the lead in the low-carbon fuel technology will be the winners,” Brown said, calling clean-tech business opportunities a “great source of industrial power and profit.”


Brown’s presence here shows just how quickly environmental concerns are moving to the forefront in China, the world’s largest developing country. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger came here in 2005, his aides said he was asked to steer clear of mentioning climate change because the issue was a source of international tensions between China and the West.

But as rapid development here has led to growing environmental problems, Chinese leaders have taken notice. Joining Brown in the wood-paneled semicircular conference hall was Zhao Jiarong, a deputy secretary of the government’s climate change agency, who said China will look to California as it continues to grapple with its own environmental problems.

Noting the state’s role as a leader on greenhouse gas reduction and green innovation, Zhao said “these efforts will be important reference points for China.”

In a 20-minute prepared speech to about 200 American delegates, Chinese government officials, students and academics, Brown struck a particularly erudite tone. Standing before a massive rainbow banner and on a podium adorned with a massive bouquet of star lillies and snapdragons, the governor quoted Confucius and said cooperation on environmental protection was a chance make a more cosmic impact.

“We’re in one world and we’ve got one big problem,” Brown said. Collarobating on solving that problem is “also about social harmony, about living well together.”



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