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Despite attacks, Brown will attend U.N. climate summit in Paris next month

Gov. Jerry Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown is still planning to travel to Paris next month for the highly anticipated United Nations summit on climate change.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown is still planning to travel to Paris next month for the highly anticipated United Nations summit on climate change, which French leaders said will go on despite Friday’s terrorist attacks.

“As long as events move forward, the governor intends to participate,” Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown, said Monday.

The attacks, which killed 129 people and wounded hundreds more, came less than three weeks before the U.N. summit was scheduled to begin. Roughly 50,000 people are expected to descend on Paris to participate in negotiations and related events intended to forge a new international agreement to fight global warming.

French President Francois Hollande said holding the summit would “show that the world must stay united against terrorism.”

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Brown has been planning to attend the event with a California delegation, including lawmakers, administration officials and business leaders.

Although the summit isn’t being canceled, it will be pared down. Reuters reported that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said some demonstrations, concerts and festivities will be canceled.

It’s unclear whether that would affect any plans for California’s presence.

“We are still assessing and haven’t made any decisions yet what changes may be necessary,” said Gary Gero, president of Climate Action Reserve, a nonprofit that is helping to organize the state’s delegation.

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With three years left in his final term as governor, Brown has made climate change a marquee issue.

The Paris summit “gives the governor a chance to walk on the world stage,” said Ethan Rarick, director of the Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at UC Berkeley.

“He’s made his mark in California,” Rarick said. “And now he has a chance to make his mark internationally.”

Brown has been working on an international pact among states and provinces that pledge long-term limits on emissions that are equivalent to California’s targets. On Monday, his office announced that the combined gross domestic products of the signatories were larger than the economy of the United States.

“From Germany to Brazil to China and beyond, this pact is uniting the world’s leaders around a common goal: preventing catastrophic changes to our climate,” the governor said in a statement. “If enough cities, states, regions — and even countries — join us, we can overcome the sheer complacency that threatens the well-being of humanity itself.”

Orville Schell, who wrote a 1978 biography of Brown and is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York, said California has earned a role at the summit with its progressive environmental policies.

“Next to Washington, Sacramento and California are the next biggest U.S. player,” he said. “It’s important that California be there.”

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chris.megerian@latimes.com

Twitter: @chrismegerian

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