This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met this week with a powerful American leader who believes climate change is real and wants to open the economic floodgates for U.S.-China cooperation on green tech.

I’m not kidding.

While reporters struggled to find out if President Donald Trump has any knowledge of climate science in the wake of abandoning the Paris climate deal, California Gov. (and prominent Trump critic) Jerry Brown was posing for photos with Chinese leaders — and pandas — in a full-frontal offensive to position his state not only as a leader on climate action, but as a quasi-nation-state looking to fill the void in reliable American leadership created by Trump.

He signed climate pacts with regional officials in Chinese provinces Jiangsu and Sichuan, met a slew of Chinese government ministers, and inked a major agreement with the central government to boost direct China-California cooperation on renewable energy, zero-emission vehicles, and low-carbon cities. Brown appeared with energy ministers from 24 countries and the European Union at this week’s Clean Energy Ministerial in Beijing, and his delegation is scheduled to meet 75 Chinese companies interested in working with California.

Another focus in Beijing is a side event for the “Under2 Coalition,” a group Brown helped found in 2015, which now consists of 170 “sub-national” jurisdictions in 33 countries (including two Chinese provinces) committed to fighting climate change.

“The key to Paris was President Xi and President Obama meeting together,” Brown said in Chengdu earlier this week, according to the Los Angeles Times. Now, “it’s up to President Xi to advance the ball. We want to stand behind him and make that possible.”

“It’s complicated to bring panda bears” to the US, Brown says on tour. “You have to know a lot of powerful people.”

— jessicameyers (@jessicameyers) June 4, 2017

In contrast, Trump railed against China last Thursday when he committed to leaving the Paris deal, casting the United States as a victim of an international conspiracy to steal U.S. jobs. “They can do whatever they want in 13 years, not us,” he said of China’s emissions plans. (That is not true.)

China, known for being a stickler for diplomatic…