Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown’s new gig: Launching a California-China climate change institute at UC Berkeley

Even in retirement, Jerry Brown is still trying to save the world.

In his second stint as California governor, Brown warned repeatedly that climate change threatened human existence and stressed the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are talking about extinction,” he said during a climate change conference in Vatican City in 2015. “We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.”

In July, Brown will leave his retirement to join UC Berkeley in helping launch the California-China Climate Policy Institute. He’ll also serve as a visiting professor, according to an email sent to Berkeley staff obtained by The Bee.

The former governor will be California director of the new institute, according to the email. Brown will spend three years as a visiting professor at U.C. Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources and Berkeley Law School. His main role will be to help run the institute.

Brown announced that California and Tsinghua University would establish the institute during a 2017 trip to China, Reuters reported at the time. The institute’s goal will be for California and China to research technology to combat global warming, Reuters reported.

While in office, Brown sought to make California a global leader on fighting climate change, including with his 2017 trip to China. Brown has called China the world’s “great hope” on on climate change in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental agreements and policies undertaken by his predecessor Barack Obama.

A spokesman for Brown declined to comment about the institute specifically, but provided a general statement.

“At a time of increasing tension between the United States and China, it’s imperative to foster serious and fruitful collaboration on climate change,” Brown said in the statement. “This is the defining issue facing our two countries and I intend to continue working with China to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement — and beyond.”

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Sophia Bollag covers California politics and government. Before joining The Bee, she reported in Sacramento for the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times. She grew up in California and is a graduate of Northwestern University.
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