California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s trip to China may look like presidential posturing but it’s really about China’s leverage on climate policy. In China, Gov. Newsom will renew four climate agreements signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, and there’s a back story here.
The son of a California governor, Brown ran for president in 1976, 1980, and 1992. After those losses, and a 1982 loss to Republican Pete Wilson for the U.S. Senate, Brown mounted a comeback and in 2010 became governor again. The former seminarian, a lawyer not a scientist, soon began posturing as a world leader and climate authority. When President Trump took the United States out of the Paris Accords, Brown cozied up to China, which relies heavily on coal.
“Nobody can stay on the sidelines,” Brown told reporters. We can’t afford any dropouts in the tremendous human challenge to make the transition to a sustainable future.” And so on, inspiration for his successor.
Gov. Brown appointed Gavin Newsom’s father to superior and appeal-court judgeships. Gov. Newsom is on record that Brown has the greatest political mind “in our lifetime.” Like Brown, Newsom parrots climate-change pieties and shows no familiarity with works such as Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, by Steven Koonin, a physicist, who served as undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy in the Obama administration. See this review for details.
Gov. Newsom will sign a new climate agreement in Shanghai, where he traveled with Sen. Feinstein in 2005. Feinstein, who recently passed away, was the most China-compliant senator and maintained a Chinese spy on her staff for 20 years.
Much of the interchange with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) flows through the California-China Climate Institute, established by Assembly Bill 39 to develop a “partnership with the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University and other entities and institutions in China and California.” Jerry Brown chairs the Institute and the vice chair is Mary Nichols, like Jerry Brown a lawyer not a scientist.
Nichols formerly headed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and founded the Los Angeles office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Back in 1990 she was touting $5-a-gallon for gasoline and, during the Clinton administration, Nichols worked for the federal EPA. Gov. Brown brought her back to run CARB and she kept on staff Hien Tran, who bought his statistics Ph.D. in a New York City diploma mill and falsified air-pollution figures.
The Brown crony Nichols is a natural for the California-China Climate Institute, a “groundbreaking partnership,” with the People’s Republic. The partnership is “not strictly a one-way street,” Nichols explains, “there really is collaboration that goes on.” The Institute has been “working on various kinds of papers with Chinese scholars that get into the specifics about various climate policies.”
On his current trip, Gov. Newsom will renew a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The governor will also renew a 2013 MOU with Beijing on air quality, which “facilitated collaboration between California Air Resources Board officials and Chinese regulators.”
If Californians wondered who is setting regulatory policy for whom it would be hard to blame them. The California-China Climate Institute and Newsom’s junket are hardly the first case of lopsided “collaboration” with China.
In April, 2020, Gov. Newsom struck a $1 billion deal for masks with Chinese company Build Your Dreams (BYD), not known for protective equipment. Newsom kept the details secret, even from fellow Democrats, and what happened to the $1 billion remains something of a mystery.
For the new span of the Bay Bridge, California turned down federal funding and hired a Chinese company, the state-owned Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, which at the time, had no experience building bridges. The project came in 10 years late, $5 billion over budget, and riddled with corrosion, bad welds, and so forth. When informed of the safety issues, Gov. Jerry Brown famously said “I mean, look, s*#% happens.”
Thus spake the man who heads the California-China Climate Institute, the greatest political mind in our time, according to Gov. Newsom. On his current trip, the governor will visit Hong Kong, the first city in the world to require businesses to disclose their carbon emissions. That is similar to California Senate Bill 253, which Gov. Newsom signed this month, as Politico observed, “covering businesses in California.”
In China, Gov. Newsom will “steer clear of engaging on hot-button issues like technology transfers, trade subsidies and human rights issues in Hong Kong, and China’s Xinjiang province.” Like Jerry Brown, Gov. Newsom has kept rather quiet about China’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters and the Communist regimes’ human rights violations in general.
Joe Biden contends that the Chinese are “not bad folks,” and not even competition for the United States. In similar style, Gavin Newsom sees no downside to collaboration with a massive violator of human rights and a major polluter. With 2024 looming, the people have plenty to ponder.
This article was also published in The American Spectator