UCI Sociology PhD student Ben Leffel participates in Climate Leaders Summit

Feb. 3, 2016

In addition to serving as Director of Research for the Tai Initiative (a US-China subnational capacity building nonprofit), Ben Leffel is a Research Associate of the China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia (CPGP). In these capacities, and as a Ph.D. student affiliated with the Long Institute, Leffel attended the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit recently held in Los Angeles. He participated in a presentation on ''Climate-Smart Buildings and the Built Environment,'' studying cost-effective alternatives to industrial wastewater management through the use of urban hybrid-wetlands.

While the 2015 Sustainable Innovation Forum, “CoP21,” was the "main event" for making commitments to fight global climate change, which the U.S. and China had spent 2015 preparing for, the story of U.S.-China climate change cooperation in the lead-up to CoP21 is made clear in the following narrative: through the November 2014 Obama-Xi Climate Deal, the U.S. pledged to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, and China pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy consumption to around 20% by 2030. It was at the September 2015 U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit that both countries crystallized the specific national and subnational partnerships and mechanisms by which the two countries would achieve the outcomes agreed to in 2014. The U.S.-China partnerships forged will be helpful to both countries to fulfill the broader commitments made at the CoP21 alongside the other nations of the world. The broader importance of this is stressed by UC San Diego's climate change expert Dr. David Victor, who argues that  the U.S.-China climate change model of cooperation is representative of a relatively more effective 'Climate Change Club' that is not hampered by the inclusion of several countries, which overly complicates climate bargaining and where extreme diversity of interests results in gridlock.