Leaders in China and Oregon laid out a path to partnership, academic collaboration and reshaping U.S.-China relations at the Climate Change & Sustainability in Oregon & China Forum.
Oregon’s carbon-neutral technologies are “leading the U.S.,” and Oregon institutions could collaborate with China to develop low-carbon technologies, a Chinese official said last week.
Speaking at last Thursday’s Climate Change & Sustainability in Oregon & China Forum, Guo Ningning, vice governor of Fujian Province, outlined the potential of joint technological development with Oregon businesses and academic partners “[to] carry out joint development of low-carbon technologies, strengthen investment and cooperation in green industries, jointly cultivate the carbon sink capacity of the ecosystem, and deepen the mutual exchange of national parks.”
At the forum, hosted by the Oregon-China Council, officials discussed a plan for the two global superpowers to meet emissions goals, with the Oregon-China partnership serving as the focal point of collaboration between the two countries.
The event had a single overriding message, one echoed by nearly every presenter: the climate crisis is not something one country can address on its own.
Technological cooperation and energy efficiency will serve as a cornerstone of the operation. Facilitating academic exchanges and creating business partnerships between Oregon and its Chinese sister states, Fujian Province and Tianjin Municipality, will help intertwine the two countries politically and economically — addressing the climate crisis while preventing military conflict.
More than 80 government officials, professors, technicians and entrepreneurs from Oregon and from China’s Fujian Province and Tianjin Municipality attended the live webinar event.
Concrete plans, including sharing carbon sequestration techniques and academic exchanges between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Oregon State University, took the place of the typical vague pledges made at high-level climate change discussions.
Panelists pointed to Trimet’s decision to field a fleet of renewable diesel buses as an indicator of Oregon’s leadership.
Among the plans laid out at the forum was an academic exchange program where Chinese professors would visit and receive doctorates from Oregon State University, viewed to be a global leader on sustainable ecology.
Rajat Panwar, professor of bioeconomy and sustainable business practices at OSU, said Oregon is in a unique position to serve as a model for China and the rest of the U.S. Not only does Oregon lead the way on sustainable production, the state also has much stricter regulations than the country as a whole, and Oregon’s closeness to forests and greenery make natural carbon offsetting solutions easier for businesses to execute.
Academics from Oregon would in turn learn about China’s reforestation projects at the Chinese Academy of Sciences which has produced intriguing carbon sequestration solutions. Among them, a technique for turning carbon dioxide into synthetic corn starch.
Wang Donghua, Chinese Consul General in San Francisco said that collaboration in the battle against climate change could serve as a turning point for U.S.-China relations. According to Wang, relations with the Biden administration have not fully recovered from the previous administration’s confrontational China policy. Relations that, if climate change is to be stopped, cannot exist in their current state.
“The importance of the China-U.S. relationship goes far beyond the bilateral scope, and the two countries share common responsibilities in addressing almost all major issues concerning world peace and development,” he says. “There is much more to the world than the adversarial relationship most people prefer.”
Wang Xu, vice mayor of Tianjin, added that deepening Oregon and China’s business relationships will help the private sector lead the way when government agencies falter. “Inaction from the international community has been the norm,” says Wang. “We have jointly held the Oregon Agricultural Products Online Promotion Meeting and Online Education Seminar this year to build a cooperation platform for enterprises, institutions, and schools to deepen the friendship between us.”
State senator Michael Dembrow posited that the Oregon-China collaboration will be crucial in turning more states and businesses towards sustainability. Given the past ineffectiveness of high-level talks, climate change solutions will more likely come from the bottom up, rather than the other way around.
“What we’ve come to realize in the battle against climate change is that the most important decisions are not being made in our state’s capital. They are being made statehouse by statehouse, city by city, business by business, local grassroots organization by organization,” says Dembrow
“I think, frankly, the future looks pretty bright if we continue to work together to understand each other, to play, to laugh, and to work on making our cultures, our community here in Oregon and the communities in China better places,” says state senator Lew Frederick, who helped to moderate the event.
To subscribe to Oregon Business, click here.