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Interview: Cooperation on climate change a milestone in U.S.-China ties

from:新华网2015-09-15 14:39

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama at a press conference following their talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 12, 2014. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing) 

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- "Cooperation on climate change is not only critical to the future of our planet, but a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.

Cooperation on climate change can "show what's possible when we work together on an urgent challenge," Garcetti said in an interview with Xinhua before the opening of the First Session of the Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit here Tuesday. 

Chinese climate talk representatives, high-level government officials and city mayors will come to Los Angeles, California, to discuss related issues and sign agreements with their U.S. counterparts during the two-day summit, which will also have U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to speak at the closing plenary session Wednesday afternoon.

The summit is the first official convening of U.S. and Chinese subnational leaders on climate change under the Climate Change Working Group and represents a key opportunity to galvanize climate action before December's United Nations climate conference in Paris, Garcetti's office said.

"When Presidents (Barack) Obama and Xi (Jinping) agreed last November that cities and states/provinces should meet to take on obligations to reduce greenhouse gases, I knew that we had to do more to ensure that cities were answering the call to climate change both here and in China," Garcetti said. "Cities are a major source of our pollution problems. And I am committed to finding the solutions, not just for our cities and those who live there, but for the world and its citizenry."   

Los Angeles' great efforts in combatting smog is well-known in China. And according to the mayor, Los Angeles has more Chinese residents, visitors, and students than any other American city. 

"Los Angeles is the ideal location for this Summit because our city serves as a great example and collaborator on critical climate change action, having put forward some of the world's most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability plans," he said. "I strongly believe in the need to take climate action locally, while working nationally with colleagues to tunnel through the barriers we face and collaborate on the global stage to raise the voice of mayors."

Los Angeles has announced the Sustainable City pLAn, setting targets to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent by 2050, and 45 percent by 2025. 

"For L.A., we will get our utility Los Angeles Department of Water and Power off of coal by 2025. We're also working to achieve zero waste and cut water imports in half by 2025, create 20,000 green jobs, and take further action to clean our air," said the mayor.  "This is exciting progress for a city with the lowest per capita water use of any city with a population over 1 million, and that is on its way to being coal-free within 10 years. In L.A., I announced that our City will have the largest pure battery electric vehicle fleet in the nation by the end of our fiscal budget year." 

Joining hands with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Garcetti created the Mayors' National Climate Action Agenda, representing a total of 29 U.S. mayors so far. "We are working mayor-to-mayor to share the lessons we are learning in our communities and getting common tools in place like inventories and climate action plans while working on an offset protocol tailored for municipal governments," he said. 

On the global level, over 140 mayors around the world have signed the Compact of Mayors, all committing to inventories and climate action plans, said Garcetti, who is one of 13 steering committee members of C40, an organization bringing together mega-city mayors working together to fight climate change.  

"Together, we will speak clearly to world leaders on the need for a global climate deal in Paris at the UN Conference of Parties in December 2015," Garcetti added.

He believed the Summit is "an historic opportunity to find solutions" at a time when the world's attention has turned to the Pacific Rim, and the responsibility for climate action has shifted to cities. 

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