Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Gov. Jerry Brown: Committed to Fighting Climate Change

Reporting from a two-day conference in Toronto where states and provinces organized to tackle climate change in advance of a UN conference, political reporter Chris Megerian profiles Gov. Brown's climate change commitment in five articles.
July 12, 2015, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

Gov. Jerry Brown's commitment to fighting climate change is core to his beliefs - that's the compelling theme that emerges from the series of articles by Chris Megerian, a reporter in the Sacramento bureau of the Los Angeles Times he penned on location in Toronto based on Brown's attendance at the Climate Summit of the Americas held July 8-9.

“We have to redesign our cities, our homes, our cars, our electrical generation, our grids — all those things,” Brown said. “And it can be done with intelligence. We can get more value from less material.”

"The governor is one of the featured speakers at the conference, organized by the Government of Ontario, along with former Vice President Al Gore and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón," wrote Megerian in the first of five articles on the Toronto conference.

Before his speech Wednesday, Brown is scheduled to hold a news conference with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard

“What we’re seeking is to increase the number of states and provinces that join with California in committing themselves to serious and significant climate reductions," Brown said. "That’s the purpose of the meeting.”

Brown attended a Jesuit seminary before going to law school, according to his biography. In the second piece (and if you are going read just one, this is the one I recommend), Megerian explores Brown's religious past and how "climate change is an issue that melds the spiritual and the political."

Brown clearly welcomes the coalescence of climate change and religion in the pope's encyclical. Francis' involvement, Brown said, is "bringing a moral and theological dimension that adds to the market and political calculations."

The third article centers on the conference, beginning with the news that  "Quebec would join a growing pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." The pact includes "17 other states and provinces from North America, South America, Europe and Africa." 

The pact that Quebec is joining was announced earlier this year in Sacramento with political leaders from Europe, Latin America and the United States. Although it's not legally binding, signatories have pledged to cut emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels, or less than 2 metric tons per capita, by 2050.

The province was the first government entity to join California's cap-and-trade program in April 2013.

It becomes clear in this article that the conference gave states and provinces the opportunity to take action on climate change. When nations gather in Paris in December at the U.N. Climate Conference, they "aren't likely to have an official voice."

While the conference may have been organized by the Government of Ontario, it gave Brown "a chance to showcase California’s growing environmental reach (as it was) attended by people from across the Americas and the other side of the Atlantic," writes Megerian in article #4. But not all developments were good from attendees.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who also attended the conference, is interested in joining as well, but lawmakers in his state have blocked such a move.

I believe the legislative roadblock may be the "poison pill that pits clean air against transit" that Inslee accepted in order to pass a transportation funding bill that includes a 11.9-cent gas tax increase.

“We intend to continue the effort,” Inslee said, possibly through a ballot measure next year.

In California, "Brown is fighting his own legislative battle to reduce gasoline use, increase energy efficiency and boost renewable energy," writes Megerian. "The bill is pending in the state Assembly, facing opposition from oil companies and skepticism from utilities."

Later this month, Brown will be off to the Vatican " for a summit on climate change hosted by Pope Francis", reports Megerian in the final article.

“This unprecedented gathering of global leaders is a wake-up call to face up to the common threats of climate change and human exploitation,” Brown said in a statement Thursday. “This is about the future of humanity and how we as human beings live and treat one another and the natural world around us.”

No word as to whether he may attempt to soften his holiness' opposition to Brown's cap-and-trade program, "a key element of California’s climate plan," according to the California Air Resources Board [PDF].

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 in Los Angeles Times - Political
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email