It’s been an invigorating few days for anyone looking for meaningful action to combat climate change, and especially for those following California’s global leadership in those efforts.
As a delegate to Governor Jerry Brown’s Trade and Investment Mission to Mexico, I witnessed first-hand California and Mexico sign a Memorandum of Understanding and formally agree to work together on a range of actions to address climate change.
The agreement between Governor Brown and representatives of Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and Mexico’s National Forestry Commission lays out areas where California and Mexico agree to cooperate and coordinate efforts on addressing climate change, including:
- Pricing carbon pollution
- Increasing renewable energy use and development
- Addressing short-term climate pollutants
- Cleaning up the transportation sector
- Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
A Joint Vision for Low-Carbon Prosperity
It makes perfect sense that Mexico is California’s latest climate change and clean energy ally. After all, the relationship between the two jurisdictions runs deep. Mexico is California’s largest trading partner, and our cultures and economic interests have undoubtedly been entwined throughout history. Both have much at stake with climate change, and this latest collaboration embraces a shared environmental vision which recognizes that a low-carbon future goes hand-in-hand with economic prosperity.
The issues of climate change and low-carbon innovation recurred throughout the three-day trade mission, including additional high-level, packed events that focused on putting a price on carbon and decarbonizing the electric grid. There was also an additional Memorandum of Understanding signing on the need to foster cross-border renewable energy investments, and lengthy discussion on aligning energy and climate goals. However, given the results-oriented nature of the mission, much of the discussions centered on what to do with a leading source of emissions in both regions: transportation.
California’s clean transportation goals offer stories for Mexico
Under AB 32, the state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, California has demonstrated that meaningful climate action in the transportation sector delivers significant benefits. EDF explored these opportunities in two recent projects.
Driving California Forward found that the state’s innovative transportation fuel policies will save more than $23 billion by 2025 through reduced public health burdens, increased energy security, and decreased impacts from climate change. The analysis also shows that these policies will prevent tens of thousands of asthma attacks and work days lost.
The Green Roads Map catalogs the impressive growth of clean transportation businesses across California– showing over 300 companies providing low carbon transportation solutions in all areas of the economy.
California’s climate leadership extends worldwide
With such eye-popping findings, it is little wonder Mexico and others jurisdictions want to learn from California’s example and import these ideas and opportunities.
For this, Governor Brown deserves our kudos: under his leadership, California is uniquely positioned to galvanize not just our state, but other partners around the world into action to cut carbon pollution and generate jobs.
In fact, the state’s climate leadership already extends worldwide:
- China has looked toward the carbon market created by AB 32 as a model for its own pilot efforts.
- Quebec and California recently linked their cap-and-trade systems, with joint auctions expected later this year.
- Oregon and Washington State continue to coordinate with California on their carbon pricing and clean fuel policy efforts.
- Peru, Australia, and Israel have also brokered climate change cooperation agreements with California.
World leaders will gather in Paris next year to further meaningful commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions around the globe. California and Mexico will provide them all with clear evidence that cooperation across borders is indeed possible and fruitful. And while his track record is already impressive, we can expect this isn’t Governor Brown’s last strong display of climate leadership before the Paris talks begin.