warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

L.A. Hosts First US-China Climate Leaders Summit

Xinyu Zhang, Mengchen Liu |
September 14, 2015 | 6:04 p.m. PDT


Dr. Chatterjee provides source of scientific research data.
Dr. Chatterjee provides source of scientific research data.

The first U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit begins today in Los Angeles. Important guests from cities in both countries will come to the meeting to communicate about working collaboratively to tackle climate issues.

“I think the summit will be a good lead-up to the United Nations climate conference in Paris and precursor to President Xi Jinping's visit to America next week,” Rachel Will, managing editor of U.S.-China Today magazine said. “Los Angeles and Beijing face similar problems of burgeoning populations and urban sprawl, which contribute to air pollution, making the cities suitable allies to tackle this problem.”

This week, Mayor Eric Garcetti is meeting with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun because the two cities are together responsible for 42 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, Los Angeles Chief Sustainability Officer Matt Petersen said.

"If we can prove that these cities can make commitments collectively and bilaterally to fight climate change, then we can show the rest of the world that we can turn this around,” Petersen said.

READ MORE: U.S. And China Reveal Historic Climate Change Goals

The two-day summit follows a meeting between Presidents Obama and Jinping last November, where the two leaders announced a joint climate control agreement.  Along with planning sessions and press conferences, the conference will feature special thematic events, such as a lunch program called “Food for Sustainable Nations”, in which James Cameron and former White House Senior Nutrition Policy Advisor Sam Kass will join the group. There will also be breakout sessions on related topics, including “Low Carbon City Planning” and “Climate Finance and Carbon Markets”.

“There is immense potential towards climate change mitigation considering both countries are high emitters of CO2, if commitments are made to cut down emissions until 2030,” said University of Southern California Environmental Studies Professor Dr. Monalisa Chatterjee.

Cities of California and China are facing different critical climate issues, though, according to William J. Kelly, author of the book The People’s Republic of Chemical.

“The most urgent thing for China is to reduce the dependence on coal. Coal is the number one source for greenhouse gas emission in China,” Kelly said.

READ MORE: 34 Faces Of The Los Angeles Metro

Though China lags behind the U.S. in terms of controlling carbon emissions, California lawmakers trying to further curb the pollution have recently been facing pushback. An aggressive bill from Governor Jerry Brown that would have called for doubling the state's use of renewable energy while halving its use of petroleum has fallen under attack in recent weeks by the oil industry. Radio, television and Internet ads warned voters of gas rations if they support the bill, showing images of toddlers pushing an empty-tanked family minivan home. Brown killed the bill's call for a 50 percent petroleum use reduction by 2030 last Thursday.

“I see it as a temporary reversal,” USC Environmental Journalism Professor Larry Pryor said. “The governor was overwhelmed by an industry-financed media campaign that was effective in reaching the public, even though it was a distortion of facts and was aimed at spreading fear over government controls.”

Later this month the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit will take place in New York. At the end of this year the United Nations Climate Conference will be held in Paris.

“Hopefully what happens at this meeting and the previous meetings point a way toward broadening and [including] other states, and eventually the two national governments, as they go to Paris later this fall,” Kelly said.

Reach contributor Xinyu Zhang here. Reach contributor Mengchen Liu here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.