By Peter Fimrite
Gov. Jerry Brown sought Thursday to bolster his position as America's de facto climate czar, urging the world to defy President Trump and join him in San Francisco next year for a "climate action summit."
In a prerecorded video address to the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany, Brown put forth his most direct challenge to Trump, who will meet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Group of 20 summit in the same city, the second-largest in Germany.
The California summit will be held in San Francisco in September 2018, Brown said, marking the first time a state has sponsored an event in support of the Paris climate agreement, a landmark deal ratified by 148 nations that Trump declared he would withdraw from two months ago.
"It's up to you and it's up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change," Brown told festival participants.
"President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn't speak for the rest of America," the governor said. "We in California and in states all across America believe it's time to act, it's time to join together and that's why at this climate action summit we're going to get it done."
Brown urged the world's scientists, government leaders, entrepreneurs, musicians, mathematicians, professors and students to "come join us" at the California summit. The idea is to "spur deeper commitment" to fighting global warming, according to the governor's office.
Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered in Hamburg for the Global Citizen Festival, which featured bands like Coldplay and speeches by world leaders. As many as 100,000 protesters with varying agendas, including opposition to capitalism and globalization, have also descended on the German city, which has responded with a massive security force.
The governor has been an outspoken critic of Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and bashed the Paris agreement as a bad deal for the United States, while also seeking to protect the oil and gas industries from climate regulations.
Calling the president's decision to pull out of the Paris accord "outlandish," Brown has vigorously defended California's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He helped inspire a climate-friendly backlash from mayors, governors and local leaders when he called for states to forge alliances supporting the Paris deal.
California and Germany were early backers of the Under2 Coalition, an international climate pact that now has the blessing of 175 cities, states and nations representing nearly 40 percent of the global economy. Brown met last month with Barbara Hendricks, the German environmental minister, to discuss the fight against the planet's warming.
The Under2 coalition was a precursor to the Paris accord, with the same goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions so that temperatures don't rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels -- the point at which scientists expect catastrophic problems.
Brown recently traveled to China as America's unofficial climate ambassador, and he met at the governor's mansion with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who served as president of this year's U.N. conference on climate change.
In California, he has been fighting to reauthorize cap and trade, a market system that rewards companies that reduce greenhouse gases with carbon credits and requires polluters to buy those credits.
In March, Brown reaffirmed California's commitment to the Clean Power Plan, which includes the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission-reduction targets in North America. It is part of legislation the governor signed in 2015 that requires California to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The governor has also vowed to reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years.
Polls have shown that the vast majority of Americans believe global warming is happening and that carbon emissions should be reduced.
Former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, who introduced Brown to the crowd in Hamburg, said the California climate summit will send a strong message to the Trump administration -- which is exactly what many California legislators want him to do.
"This is California at its best, really leading the world as we've done so many times, and refusing to be sidetracked by a president who wants to take us backward in dangerous ways," said Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael. "It's a great way to say the United States is still in."
(c)2017 the San Francisco Chronicle