UC Berkeley launches climate research institute with Chinese officials, former CA governor Jerry Brown

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UC Berkeley launched the California-China Climate Institute on Monday, in partnership with former California governor Jerry Brown and Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change affairs.

Brown, who will be chairing the institute, said he is looking forward to the opportunities provided through collaboration between the institute and Chinese and American officials in advancing climate research. According to Brown, some focuses of the institute will be on advancing research on zero-emissions transportation and aims to lower both California’s and China’s carbon emissions. 

“There are many items on the climate change agenda that California has experience in and that China has tremendous potential to implement,” Brown said. “We see this as a unique and important collaboration.” 

While the institute will be housed at UC Berkeley, there will be “close collaboration” with the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University in China, according to a press release from Brown’s office. The institute will also work with multiple national and provincial Chinese governing bodies, along with California State Commissions, among other state boards, the press release said.

Among other initiatives, the institute will arrange a series of climate talks involving government, business and climate officials from both the United States and China, according to the press release. Brown also said the institute is already making arrangements to hold a conference with Chinese representatives within the next few months.

“Berkeley is uniquely positioned to help these two world leaders address the pressing issue of climate change,” said Chancellor Carol Christ in the press release. “Our faculty and researchers each day take on the peril of our changing climate and seek to develop new technologies and policies that will reduce greenhouse gasses across continents.”

According to the press release, the institute will be housed within both the College of Natural Resources and the UC Berkeley School of Law. The institute’s physical office is located within Berkeley Law, Brown said.

Brown was appointed as a campus visiting professor in July, the press release said. Brown also said he will not be engaged with the campus community on a daily basis, as he is focusing on the institute and climate action.

Brown also highlighted that this institute is an academic enterprise rather than a governmental organization — thus, the institution will focus on “uncovering important facts and truths and opportunities.”

“We’re looking forward to serious joint effort dialogue and working together,” Brown said. “That is a very important opportunity to utilize the skills and the knowledge of the university, along with the state of California, and our partners throughout the university and in the various government departments in China. … We can accomplish incredible things and I’m committed to seeing that happen.”

Sakura Cannestra is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.