Gov. Jerry Brown blasts denier nations’ ‘suicide mission’

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, December 17, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) blasted the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other countries last night for their conduct at U.N. climate talks this week in Poland, calling their attempts to undermine climate science a “suicide mission.”

In a video message, Brown, who has made climate a signature focus of his final two terms as governor, implored world governments wrapping up negotiations in Katowice, Poland, to “wake up” and take action.

“You represent humanity — over 7 billion people are counting on you,” he said. “Don’t resort to what will be condemned in future years as nothing less than a criminal enterprise.”

On Saturday, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked nearly 200 nations involved in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change from “welcoming” a U.N. report in October saying that “unprecedented” action is required to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and stave off worldwide hardship, instead demanding that the body simply take “note” of the landmark finding by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global greenhouse gas emissions must plateau within 12 years to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures. Their language wasn’t agreed to either, and the meeting has yet to decide how or whether it will acknowledge the report (Climatewire, Dec. 10).

Brown — who has been named executive chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, responsible for the “Doomsday Clock” that monitors specieswide threats — urged the four countries to step back from the brink.

“The actions and the behavior of the leaders of the United States and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Russia and other countries are not acceptable,” he said. “This is a suicide mission upon which you have embarked. Pull back, the people of the world are asking you — men, women and children.”

He cited the state’s devastating wildfires and mudslides as consequences of climate change and pointed to California’s own policies, including electric vehicle targets, building regulations, renewable energy requirements and its cap-and-trade program, as potential solutions. Brown also set a goalearlier this year of becoming entirely carbon-neutral by 2045.

“There is so much we can do,” he said. “I’m not saying we’ve gotten there — our emissions per capita are entirely too high, but we are committed to do more.”

And he offered — as he did at an international climate conference he convened in San Francisco earlier this year — the solace of commitments made by California and other subnational governments.

“The United States, I am sorry to say, does not represent the people of the United States. California, Washington, New York, Vermont and many, many other states, representing tens of millions of people, believe in the science of climate change — believe, and demand that we reduce our carbon emissions,” he said. “We recognize the science undergirding the knowledge we have today on climate change. If we’re going to stay below 1.5 degrees centigrade from the industrial period, we have to take action now.”