U.S. - China Subnational Climate Cooperation - Updates, Progress, and Recommendations: Part One

July 11, 2022

Note: This is a two-part blog series. The first blog provides a brief update on the state of U.S.-China subnational climate cooperation and reviews domestic progress on climate policy in the U.S. The second blog reviews domestic climate progress in China, and concludes with a set of recommendations on enhancing subnational U.S.-China climate cooperation.

U.S.-China subnational climate cooperation has faced significant headwinds over the past few years — from the impacts of COVID-19 which largely froze travel between the U.S. and China, to the broader instability of the U.S.-China relationship.

While cooperation has not returned to the levels reached during the Obama Administration, some progress has been made in recent months. This includes the April 2022 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between California and China, which reaffirmed a joint commitment to climate cooperation and decarbonization efforts. The MOU serves as a reminder of California’s sustained climate leadership and cooperation with China under the Newsom Administration.

Domestically, states and provinces in the U.S. and China continue to take climate action in their respective jurisdictions, including through new emissions regulations, commitments to clean energy and electric vehicles, and infrastructure improvements. In the U.S., states have passed climate legislation to reduce carbon emissions and implement clean energy infrastructure plans. They’ve also improved industry standards and increased state climate budgets. Below is an overview of some of the recent U.S. state-led climate initiatives and progress.

Selected Recent State-level Progress on Climate Policy in the U.S.

State Recent Climate Policy Progress

California is facing one of its largest budget surpluses in state history. Gov. Newsom announced a $53.9 billion climate commitment budget which includes initiatives for EV programs, charging infrastructure, grid  resilience, and electricity reliability reserves; it seeks to leverage Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) funding by implementing new programs for clean transportation and infrastructure as well as decreasing energy burdens in marginalized communities.


The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved new financial requirements for oil and gas companies, and passed Air Toxics Rules (HB22-1244), which will expand air quality monitoring and establish health-based standards for pollutants.
Meanwhile, HB 22-1362 was signed into law in June and aims to tackle emissions from the building sector, and SB 22-193 is a signed act to address air pollution from manufacturing and industry. 


The Connecticut legislature passed SB10  and SB4, which commits the state to 100% clean energy and to implementing California’s Advanced Trucks Rule. SB10 requires the state to supply 100% zero-carbon electricity to all customers by 2040, and SB4 targets reducing transportation emissions by requiring state-purchased light duty vehicles to be 100% electric by 2030, expanding EV rebate eligibility and implementing 100% zero-emission school buses across the state by 2035.

Florida The Florida legislature established an Office of Resilience, aiming to address flooding and sea level rise (CS/HB 7053).
Maine The Maine legislature enacted LD 1429, commiting the state to net zero energy by 2045. In addition, Maine passed significant legislation to require integrated grid planning as part of Maine’s Climate Action Plan, and will require assessment of environmental, equity, and environmental justice impacts of the grid plans. This change in grid planning helps to reduce emissions by holding utilities accountable for changes in electricity demand and connecting sources of clean energy.

The Maryland legislature passed The Climate Solutions Now Act, which commits the state to net-zero climate emissions by 2045 and requires a 60% carbon reduction goal by 2031. The state also established an Office of Resilience (SB 630).


The Michigan state legislature passed a major budget bill that will dedicate $4.7 billion to clean up and protect the state’s water, fund state and local parks, repair roads and bridges, as well as removing lead pipes from the drinking water system.

New Mexico

The New Mexico legislature implemented new ozone precursor rules to prevent leaks of methane emissions, and adopted clean car standards to increase the number of electric vehicles.

New Jersey

The New Jersey legislature passed A5160 which updated appliance efficiency standards.

New York

The New York legislature passed their state budget, which included billions in new environmental funding and requires all school buses statewide to be 100% zero-emission by 2035.

North Carolina

Executive Order 246 in North Carolina establishes a greenhouse gas emissions reductions goal of 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Oregon The Oregon legislature established new appliance efficiency standards (HB 4057) enhancing efficiency requirements for battery chargers, computers, water heaters, small electronics, and more.
Vermont The Vermont legislature signed SB 148 to address environmental justice within the state and the disproportionate effects of climate change on low income and Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color (BIPOC) communities.
Washington The Washington legislature approved the greenest transportation package in the state’s history, which will put $17 billion into new public transit, electric vehicle infrastructure, and alternative transportation.

The second blog in this two-post series will provide more detail on progress being made on subnational climate action in China, and conclude with suggestions on how to re-invigorate cooperation and facilitate greater mutual understanding between the U.S. and China