On the eve of the G20 Summit in Germany, California is once again making international waves on climate change. California Governor Jerry Brown announced that he will host a Global Climate Action Summit in 2018 for city, state, and business leaders in the United States and around the world to come together and commit to greater climate action.
Set in California, which enacted the toughest greenhouse gas emissions targets in North America last year, the summit will provide a major opportunity for a diverse set of subnational leaders to pledge concrete climate actions in the wake of President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, the summit will be critical to ensuring that national governments—emboldened by their own mayors, governors, and business leaders—come back to the table in 2020 as scheduled with stronger climate commitments as part of the Paris Agreement’s system to continually ratchet up efforts over time.
Since Trump’s Paris announcement, an impressive groundswell of American local, state, and business leaders have resoundingly stated “we are still in” to accelerate climate action and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The U.S. Climate Alliance, a state-specific group committed to meeting America’s contribution to the Paris Agreement, now consists of 12 states and one territory that represent one-third of the American people and gross domestic product.
In announcing the summit, Governor Brown stated: “I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America. We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act.” The California summit will provide these leaders with a global platform to announce additional concrete commitments and actions to demonstrate they are prepared to take the necessary steps to show they are truly “in.”
Governor Brown and State legislative leaders Kevin de León and Anthony Rendon are no strangers to mustering subnational leadership around the globe to catalyze greater climate action—traveling to Mexico, COP21 in Paris, and other American states. California’s Under2 Coalition, spearheaded in partnership with the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, is a growing commitment by over 170 governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels. Members of the Under2 Coalition represent 1.2 billion people and $29 trillion in gross domestic product—nearly 40 percent of the global economy. As part of this effort, Governor Brown was named special envoy for states and regions to the annual climate conference in Germany this November.
The California summit is the first meeting a U.S. state has hosted to support the United Nations climate change process. The summit will be co-hosted with other global and subnational leaders in September 2018 in San Francisco, and serve to inject political momentum at an opportune moment to advance global climate action.
NRDC views the California summit as a critical call to action for all leaders to act on climate change. We need our policy makers and business leaders to step up to the plate with concrete commitments to climate action, especially in light of President Trump’s Paris decision. The summit will be the first major moment to demonstrate American society is irreversibly committed to real climate action to keep our nation on track to meeting its commitment to the Paris Agreement.