Although the US federal government has snubbed the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, representatives from America’s most populous state are attending to drum up support for international efforts to tackle climate change. California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis said she was attending the event primarily to “talk about climate change and urge participants to prioritise the issue, and consider how the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ can drive positive action for this global threat”. The forum, which began on Thursday, is being attended by senior figures from 37 countries, but the United States decided not to send senior figures owing to its growing doubts about the transcontinental infrastructure project and the ongoing trade war between the two sides. But Kounalakis, who spoke at a forum on subnational cooperation in fighting global warming, praised China’s plans to introduce a national carbon trading programme. War on climate change is doomed if China turns back to coal “What China has attempted to do is no small feat. When fully operational, China will have the largest emission trading market in the world,” she said. “The Belt and Road Initiative presents perhaps the greatest opportunity today for China to confirm its commitment to combating climate change.” She said she hoped China would make that its top priority – along with efforts to protect the environment – in each belt and road infrastructure project. China began setting up pilot carbon trading platforms in 2013 in seven areas and four years later announced plans to launch a nationwide scheme. Last month a senior climate official said the scheme was expected to start operating some time next year. What will we tell our grandchildren as we dither over climate change? Kounalakis added that California and China had signed several memorandums of understanding on the issue and had built up a partnership based on the shared principle of fighting climate change. In September last year, China and California held a three-day summit in San Francisco to discuss the issue with the endorsement of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sent a personal message of support to the governor at the time, Jerry Brown.