Soon after the summit got underway, the prime minister from Barbados, Mia Mottley, put into perspective for attendees what President Trump’s decision to cancel the U.S. commitment to the Green Climate Fund means for her country.
The fund was created as part of a Copenhagen climate agreement that preceded the Paris accord. Its aim is to enable the richest countries to help developing nations reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change.
Trump complained that the U.S. commitment of $3 billion to the fund was onerous, and he ordered the payments stopped.
Awesome to see citizens peacefully demonstrating this morning (songs, signs & chants) @ SF Moscone Center #GCAS2018 in protest for more regulations to protect environment & reduce carbon emissions. We should all be that passionate about climate change. 🌎❤️ pic.twitter.com/knlMv7Psk3
Just before the climate summit got underway, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order that was so far-reaching and unprecedented that it was met with considerable skepticism. The directive calls for the entire California economy to go completely carbon free by 2045.
The ambitious plan raised immediate questions. As an executive order, is it even binding? Does California have any plan in place for a complete decarbonization of its economy?
Brown vowed Thursday morning that the order was not just symbolic. He said such transitions in California have traditionally started with an executive order, which are then followed by agencies putting plans in place and the Legislature cementing the policy with new law. He acknowledged that getting to carbon neutrality requires “technological changes that don’t exist yet” and his measure is aimed at bolstering their innovation.
Times columnist George Skelton examines the criticism of Jerry Brown from activists who say that for all his talk, he’s not quite the climate warrior many think:
Gov. Jerry Brown is unquestionably one of America’s most outspoken climate warriors. Yet in his own state, activists protest that he’s an overrated slacker. That’s quintessential left-coast California.
Even though the governor is outspoken, his critics say, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a softie on some polluting industries, especially oil.
There’s little consensus on the extent to which local and state measures and industry pledges can make up for a lack of federal action — let alone cut enough pollution to make a meaningful dent in humanity’s most existential threat.
Here is a look at how much global emissions cuts are needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“What happens in Washington still matters, of course, and we need to vote out of office those who refuse to recognize reality. But the American people are not waiting on Washington to take action because the benefits are clear: Businesses are saving money by investing in clean energy and efficiency upgrades. Technology companies are making money by driving down the cost of wind and solar,” Gov. Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg. Los Angeles Times
“It’s a bit like a game show,” said summit communications director Nick Nuttall. “It’s going to be loads of Hollywood style announcements.” Associated Press
“Climate change is too important for us not to act,” San Francisco Mayor Taylor Breed. “We’re already seeing the impacts of global warming here in California and all over our planet.” San Francisco Chronicle
You can watch highlights of Day One of the climate change summit here.
This video is from Cities4Climate and focuses on more sustainable cities.
San Francisco is hosting a worldwide collection of states, cities and regional governments that have pledged to do their part to help meet the goals set in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement on climate change despite opposition from the White House. There are 222 governments in the coalition, which its leader says covers more than 43% of the global economy and 1.3 billion people. The attendees Wednesday included 72 premiers, governors and other senior leaders.
Even as California forged its own path for years to battle global warming, pressing forward whether Washington agreed or not, skeptics have persistently scolded that it is just a state — it can’t set policy for the nation, much less the world.
If California ever had a moment to prove them wrong, it is now. At the international climate summit Gov. Jerry Brown will kick off Wednesday in San Francisco, the state is playing a role none ever has, pushing the rest of the country to join other nations in enforcing a landmark agreement on climate change that President Trump has quit.