California-China Climate Institute Explores Opportunities for Further Collaboration on Carbon Markets and Nature-Based Climate Solutions

January 22, 2021

BERKELEY – The California-China Climate Institute last week convened experts from across California and China on two webinars that explored how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through carbon markets and nature-based climate solutions. 

The first webinar, “A Closer Look at Carbon Market Design,” was held on January 13, 2021 and was moderated by California-China Climate Institute Senior Advisor Aimee Barnes with presentations fromTsinghua University Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy Director Zhang Xiliang and Wuhan University Climate Change and Energy Economics Study Centre Director Qi Shaozhou. The event also included a discussion with Economist and Resources for the Future Darius Gaskins Senior Fellow Dallas Burtraw, and UCLA School of Law Professor Alex Wang as respondents.

California and China’s emissions trading systems are among the world’s largest. After running pilot programs in 5 cities and 2 provinces in recent years, China’s national system recently launched and trading is expected to begin later this year. China’s new goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 provides an opportunity, and impetus, to better understand the role carbon markets can play in reducing emissions. Meanwhile, California’s cap-and-trade program, operating since 2013, has been part of the state’s suite of policies and programs to achieve its world-leading climate goals.

The webinar’s participants discussed the design, implementation and regulation of California and China’s carbon market systems, including best practices, lessons learned, vulnerabilities and opportunities for reform. Last year, the Institute took a closer look at the concept of "linkage by degrees" originally developed by Dr. Burtraw, and the possibility of informal linkage between California and China's carbon markets. 

The second webinar, “Nature-based Solutions: Perspectives from California and China’s Current Policies,” was held on January 14, 2021 and was co-hosted with The Nature Conservancy. It included opening remarks from California-China Climate Institute director Fan Dai and UC Berkeley Rausser College of Natural Resources Dean David Ackerly, followed by a panel discussion with California Natural Resources Agency Deputy Secretary for Climate Change Amanda Hansen, The Nature Conservancy Climate Change Program Director Michelle Passero and Tsinghua University Department of Earth Systems Science Professor Luo Yong.

This was the first in a series of webinars the Institute will host with The Nature Conservancy on nature-based climate solutions, which involve cutting emissions through activities on natural and working lands, including forests, rangelands, agricultural lands, wetlands and urban green spaces. The event featured a wide ranging discussion of state and national policies; research, implementation and investment challenges; gaps in education and awareness; and opportunities to strengthen partnerships between governments and other stakeholders. 

The California-China Climate Institute was launched in September 2019 and is a University of California-wide initiative housed jointly at UC Berkeley’s School of Law – through its Center for Law, Energy & the Environment – and the Rausser College of Natural Resources. It is chaired by Former Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in partnership with Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs, and the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University – one of China’s preeminent research institutions. The Institute also works closely with other University of California campuses, departments and leaders. Through joint research, training and dialogue, this Institute aims to inform policymakers, foster cooperation and partnership, and drive climate solutions at all levels.  

Additional Institute resources on carbon markets and pricing and nature-based climate solutions can be found here.