Calif. Gov. Brown to host international climate summit

Source: Arianna Skibell, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, July 9, 2017

Reinforcing his intent to combat climate change and remain a major political player on the issue, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) yesterday announced his state would host an international global warming summit next year.

The summit would mark the first time an American state has hosted an international climate change conference with the direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement, according to Brown’s office.

Brown spoke by video to the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany, where President Trump is among the global leaders meeting for the Group of 20 summit.

Brown said Trump doesn’t “speak for the rest of America” in trying to withdraw from the Paris accord, the 2015 agreement in which about 200 countries pledged to slash greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries that are disproportionately affected by climate change to produce clean energy and mitigate climate-related disasters.

“Look, it’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change,” Brown told the crowd.

“That is why we’re having the Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 2018.”

He added: “We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act.”

The California summit will convene leaders from subnational governments, businesses and civil society, as well as investors, according to a news release. Representatives will shed light on innovative climate actions already underway around the world and ask for deeper commitments from national governments.

Yesterday’s announcement comes after months of talks between Brown and Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and current convener of Mission 2020 and global ambassador for the climate group Under2 Coalition.

Following the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, Figueres suggested that Brown convene a summit in 2018. California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D) recently joined other state senators in urging Brown to take on the host role.

“The growing threat of climate change demands an immediate and unified global response,” de León said in a statement.

“California remains committed to a clean energy future and we welcome the responsibility to lead on America’s behalf. My colleagues in the Senate appreciate Governor Brown agreeing to hold this global summit and look forward to working with him to welcome our partners from around the world.”

The summit will be held ahead of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 24) next year.

Since Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, more states are pledging independent action. New York, California and Washington state recently launched the U.S. Climate Alliance, which has since gathered support from nine other states and the territory of Puerto Rico.

The coalition is led by both Democrats and Republicans and has committed to reducing carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and meeting or exceeding Clean Power Plan targets.

An even broader coalition was formed last month called We Are Still In, with a number of states and hundreds of cities, businesses and universities promising to meet emissions-slashing targets set under the international accord — though questions have been raised about whether these coalitions could, depending on how they operate, violate legal limits on state action (Energywire, June 7).

Still, Brown has continued to take a leadership role on climate change. Earlier this week, he joined Under2 Coalition leaders from Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Catalonia, Spain; and South Australia in urging the Group of 20 summit to reaffirm support for implementing the Paris Agreement.

“All over the world, momentum is building to deal seriously with climate change,” he said in a statement. “Despite rejection in Washington, California is all in. We are fully committed to the Under2 Coalition and the Paris Agreement.”

Last month, Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama, who is the incoming president of COP 23, scheduled for November, named Brown as special adviser for states and regions ahead of the conference.

The appointment followed meetings with Germany’s top environmental official and with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Over his weeklong trip in China last month, Brown also met with the country’s special envoy on climate change and signed multiple agreements with national and provincial governments to cooperate on clean energy and greenhouse gas trading programs (Climatewire, June 12).

Brown is not eligible to run for re-election in 2018. He served as governor from 1975 to 1983 and again since 2011.