Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. was on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) by Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama – incoming president of COP23 – at a ceremony where Fiji became the latest government to join the Under2 Coalition.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Washington Governor Jay Inslee – members of the Under2 Coalition and U.S. Climate Alliance – also attended the ceremony and announced that they too will attend the COP23 in Bonn, Germany to represent subnational jurisdictions committed to climate action.
“California is proud to partner with Fiji, an island nation that is experiencing firsthand the impacts of climate change and this year is the leader of the UN Conference of Parties,” said Governor Jerry Brown. “I look forward to taking the next step later this year with Governor Kate Brown and Governor Jay Inslee when we join Prime Minister Bainimarama in Bonn to show that states and regions will fulfill the Paris commitment.”
The Under2 Coalition is an international pact among cities, states and countries committed to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the level of potentially catastrophic consequences – by either reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from 80 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels or holding emissions to less than two annual metric tons per capita by 2050.
With the addition of Fiji, the coalition now includes 176 jurisdictions on six continents collectively representing more than 36 countries, 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion GDP – equivalent to over 16 percent of the global population and over 39 percent of the global economy.
“As the incoming President of COP23, Fiji looks forward to working with this group of states and regions in the global effort to advance climate action at every level of society. This is true now more than ever following the Trump Administration’s announcement that the U.S. will be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. This decision has redoubled our commitment to forge a Grand Coalition that includes all levels of government, businesses and civil society, to take climate action forward with the urgency it deserves,” said Prime Minister Bainimarama. “We look forward to Governor Brown’s help in mobilising like-minded leaders from around the world in support of our goal to achieve concrete outcomes at COP23.”
The coalition was formed in 2015 by the states of California and Baden-Württemberg, Germany to mobilise and galvanise bold climate action from like-minded city, state and regional governments around the globe in the lead up to COP 21.
While the majority of Under2 Coalition members represent subnational jurisdictions, with the addition Fiji, a total of 15 nations are part of the global pact, including Sweden, Mexico and Canada which joined in April and Denmark, which signed on earlier this month at a ceremony in Beijing. Eighteen U.S. jurisdictions have joined the coalition, representing nearly one-third of America’s population and GDP.
At Wednesday’s ceremony, Washington Governor Inslee and Oregon Governor Brown also announced that they would attend COP 23 as part of a delegation of U.S. governors that have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a partnership formed in response to the White House’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord.
The alliance now includes 13 U.S. states – led by both Democrats and Republicans – committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Climate Alliance complements the goals of the Under2 Coalition, which nine climate alliance members have also joined.
“The ‘America First’ doctrine should put our children first. Future generations will judge us not on the facts of global climate change, but what we’ve done to tackle it. Strengthening the commitment to combat climate change sends a strong message to our global allies. The Paris Agreement is a blueprint from job creation and prosperity, and despite the decision by the White House to retreat, I will continue to work with leaders on the West Coast, across the country, and around the world in pursuit of greenhouse gas reduction goals and working toward the development of a greener, cleaner energy mix of the future,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown.
“The growing momentum for national and subnational collaboration gives me confidence about our ability to defeat climate change. This is an all-comers race against time, and I’m proud that Washington State is racing shoulder-to-shoulder with our West Coast neighbours, and our neighbors around the globe,” said U.S. Climate Alliance co-chair Governor Inslee.
California’s legislative leaders, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, share a strong commitment to climate action and also joined today’s event.
“Here in California we have been leaders in developing the green economy that is proving that a healthy environment and good jobs can go hand in hand. We also recognise in California that climate change affects the quality of life and the public health in all our communities and in all countries around the world, so our climate actions must benefit all communities and all countries. Ignoring or denying climate change is beyond reckless,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
“We stand united in our resolve to act on climate and build a clean energy future. And today we are sending a clear message to the rest of the world that if Washington won’t lead, we will,” said Senate Leader Kevin de León.
California’s Climate Leadership
The announcement comes on the heels of Governor Brown’s meeting last week with Germany’s top environmental official, Minister Barbara Hendricks in San Francisco and the Governor’s week-long California-China Climate Mission to strengthen California’s long-standing climate and clean energy ties with China. The Governor held bilateral meetings – including with President Xi Jinping and China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change – and signed new agreements with China’s national government through the Ministry of Science and Technology in Beijing and with the leaders of Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces.
While the federal government moves to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, continues to advance its nation-leading climate goals while also growing its economy faster than the rest of the United States. In the past seven years, California has created 2.3 million new jobs, cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and boosted its credit rating to the highest level in more than a decade.
In March, Governor Brown reaffirmed California’s commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and the state’s efforts to curb carbon pollution, which include establishing the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America and the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants. The Governor has also signed legislation that directs cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs which benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems.
This action builds on landmark legislation the Governor signed in October 2015 to generate half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings. Governor Brown has also committed to reducing today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.
The Governor has also traveled to the United Nations’ 2015 Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris, the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Vatican and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada to call on other leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru, Chile, Australia, Scotland, Sweden and Germany as well as Governor Brown’s efforts to gather hundreds of researchers and scientists around a groundbreaking call to action called the consensus statement, which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
Sources say the impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.