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'Stopping carbon will be like stopping a heroin addiction': Gov. Brown urges stronger action on climate change

 (Rich Pedroncelli / Assoicated Press)
(Rich Pedroncelli / Assoicated Press)

If anyone was hoping for a feel-good message from Gov. Jerry Brown at this week's Navigating the American Carbon World conference on climate change, they didn't get one.

"Don’t relax," he told the audience of environmental advocates, business representatives and government officials on Thursday. "Don’t feel good about yourself."

Brown's speech was a trademark blend of religious references, political barbs and warnings about the future if global warming isn't addressed.

“Most people don’t like to think about catastrophe," he said. "I like to think about catastrophe.”

Brown is planning a trip to China this year to talk about climate change. The election of President Trump has raised the stakes, he said, requiring resistance to efforts to roll back environmental regulations.

"You can’t just go with the flow. We’ve got to go against the flow," Brown said. "The flow is now leading us to catastrophe,"

The challenge, Brown said, was finding Republicans who want to deal with climate change. He said one member of the party told him, “Don’t ask me to use the words 'global warming' or 'climate change.' I can’t use those words.

“It’s like going to the Vatican and saying, 'I want to talk about Planned Parenthood,'" the governor added.

Fighting climate change requires confronting the role of carbon in everyone's daily lives, Brown said.

"Stopping carbon will be like stopping a heroin addiction," he said. "We are addicted to carbon. We are repeatedly using it, and we get a tremendous high, a whole way of life."

The conference was hosted by the Climate Action Reserve, a nonprofit that certifies projects for reducing emissions. Some of those projects are a key part of California's cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Brown is pushing lawmakers to extend the program.

“I’m going to be working on that very hard in the next several weeks," he said.

Earlier this year, Brown asked lawmakers to extend the program as part of the budget process, which faces a June 15 deadline. However, the debate could potentially continue until later this summer or next year.

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