In a high-level meeting of energy ministers in Beijing this week, China played the convening role in bringing together countries from across the globe for a discussion on how to deploy clean energy. The meeting had been scheduled long before Trump’s decision on the Paris Agreement, but the timing sent a clear message about who will lead the fight to address climate change in the coming years. During the four-day meeting, China launched a number of initiatives to advance clean energy and announced partnerships with other governments around the globe to fight climate change.
“I didn’t come to Washington, I came to Beijing,” said California Governor Jerry Brown after announcing a joint clean energy effort with Chinese leadership, according to a New York Times report. “Well, someday I’m going to go to Washington, but not this week.”
The annual clean energy meetings originally began in the early days of the Obama presidency under the leadership of then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who hosted the first meeting in Washington, D.C. The goal was to create a forum for collaboration on clean energy apart from the annual meetings on climate change that had been occurring since the 1990s. But at this year’s meeting, Energy Secretary Rick Perry played a marginalized role, primarily promoting natural gas, nuclear energy and technology to capture carbon dioxide from fossil fuel emissions. Perry said the U.S. would continue to lead on clean energy, but he also challenged China to step up as the country has said it will.