California and Chinese Province of Hainan Partner to Tackle the Climate Crisis

China Asia

California Governor Gavin Newsom and the Chinese province of Hainan’s Vice Governor Chen Huaiyu have announced a new Memorandum of Understanding to address the climate crisis on August 3, 2023. The Memorandum of Understanding emphasized five key areas of cooperation: cutting air pollution, developing and implementing climate adaptation and neutrality plans, advancing clean energy, accelerating zero-emission vehicles and driving nature-based solutions.

Under Governor Newsom, California has made an aggressive push to achieve the goals of the California Climate Commitment which works to eliminate pollution by transitioning away from oil and by delivering clean and affordable energy to California residents. The new initiative with the province of Hainan is one of California’s several partnerships in the Indo-Pacific that aims to strengthen cooperation in the international fight against climate change.

In 2022, California established a Memorandum of Cooperation with both New Zealand and Japan to address climate change and advance the transition to clean energy and electric vehicles.

China has been a long-time partner in California’s drive towards clean energy and the fight against the climate crisis. In 2017, then California Governor Jerry Brown and Sichuan Province Governor Yin Li signed an agreement which established the California-Sichuan Clean Tech Innovation Center in Chengdu and a California-China Clean Technology Partnership Fund to strengthen cooperation in the development of clean energy and low carbon technologies.

Two years later in 2019, California established a Memorandum of Understanding with the province of Jiangsu which initiated cooperation between the two governments on environmental protections and research for the development of clean technologies. Also, in September of 2019, the University of California and Tsinghua University established the California-China Climate Institute at UC Berekely to facilitate collaboration on climate solutions and foster dialogue between policymakers, scientists, and researchers in California and China.

Despite increased tension between the People's Republic of China and the United States, subnational governments have sought to encourage cooperation on global challenges such as climate change and public health issues. In June 2023, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China and met with President Xi Jinping where the two leaders reaffirmed both nations’ commitment to addressing the climate crisis. US Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited Beijing and met with PRC Premier Li Qiang in July 2023 to stregthen diplomatic exchanges and advance progress on climate cooperation.

The new Memorandum of Understanding between California and the province of Hainan demonstrates the bilateral partnership between China and the United States on a state level to solve transnational issues.

Jordan Cheney is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington D.C.. She recently graduated from American University with a Bachelor's in Political Science specializing in comparative politics and a minor in Asia, Pacific, and Diaspora Studies.