California Governor Jerry Brown in Europe to Take Action on Climate
GMF hosted California Governor Jerry Brown for a public address on November 9 in Brussels to talk about the critical importance of U.S. states, cities, and private sector in leading the way on the climate agenda, and the benefits of strong transatlantic cooperation at the subnational level for meaningful climate actions and leadership.
GMF Director of Congressional Affairs and Senior Fellow Reta Jo Lewis asked Governor Brown to discuss his vision for subnational diplomacy on climate action ahead of his participation in the Bonn climate conference.
Q: What are your goals for this trip to Europe, and what would you like to say to subnational leaders across Europe and the world?
Governor Brown: My goal here is to advance the cause of serious climate action. In California, we are taking bold steps. The European Union is taking bold steps. But none of us are doing all that we need to do, and the Bonn conference is a very important forum for redoubling our efforts, clarifying the path forward, and reinvigorating our individual and collective commitment. So, I am here to advance that particular agenda.
Q: Can you tell us what California is doing to address climate change on the global stage?
Governor Brown: On the global stage, we are building a coalition, now including over 190 states and provinces — places such as Baden-Wurttemberg, Quebec, Ontario, Washington State, Oregon, New York, Vermont, and California. So on the world stage we are working with other leaders of states and provinces and increasingly with cities, important mayors, and then with corporations, to advance serious climate measures. And in California we’re taking those measures — from zero emission vehicles, low carbon fuel, efficient buildings and appliances, renewable energy and a robust cap and trade system. And all of that are things that others can do. And then as we promote this cause, we have to then encourage each other, and in fact California as well, to do more. Because the world must do more. We are too complacent, too satisfied given the existential threat that climate change represents.
Q: Diplomacy has traditionally been the business of national governments. What do you think is the role of states and cities, and how do you see this role evolving?
Governor Brown: This is not like War and Peace. The city of Milan or the city of New York or San Francisco cannot declare war, but we can generate toxic emissions, carbon emissions, that threaten humanity — in fact, threaten all life. So, because of the nature of climate change risk and the fact that we are all contributing to it, we all have to be part of the solution. So yes, we do not need to have just Washington and Berlin and Paris dealing with the problem; we all have to do it — corporations, universities, states, cities — and we are doing that. That is the idea of the Under2 Coalition. That is the idea of my journey here to the European Union and to Bonn for the conference of the parties. We all are part of the problem; we all have to be part of the solution.
Further Reading: Subnational Leaders Take Charge on Climate
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