Within hours of expanding California’s climate partnership with China and other world leaders in Beijing, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. met with German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety Barbara Hendricks to further California’s leadership on climate change in the wake of the U.S federal government’s retreat.
“China and Germany – two of the most powerful countries in the world – are working with California and with other states to deal with climate change,” said Governor Brown. “The current withdrawal from the Paris Accord by the Washington administration is being overcome and countermanded by people throughout the whole world.”
“The United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement underscores the significance of subnational actors in particular in our joint efforts to achieve the overall objective and goals,” said Minister Hendricks. “Together with California, Germany will provide strong leadership for the Under2 Coalition in the COP23 in Bonn this November.”
California and Germany have a strong record of working together to take action on climate change. In 2015, California and the German state of Baden-Württemberg formed the Under2 Coalition – an international pact among cities, states and countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the level of potentially catastrophic consequences – to help galvanize subnational action in the lead up to COP21. The Federal Republic of Germany endorsed the Under2 MOU in 2015 and the German states of Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia have also joined the coalition.
The Under2 Coalition now includes 175 jurisdictions on six continents collectively representing more than 35 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. Eighteen U.S. jurisdictions have joined the coalition, representing 89 million people and 28 percent of the U.S. population.
Following their meeting in San Francisco today, the Governor and Minister Hendricks issued a joint statement on climate cooperation, highlighting the importance of California’s leadership in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and emphasizing that climate change action is not only a necessity but also an opportunity for economic growth.
California’s Leadership on Climate Change
Today’s meeting comes on the heels of Governor Brown’s week-long California-China Climate Mission, during which the Governor strengthened California’s long-standing climate and clean energy ties with the nation through bilateral meetings – including with President Xi Jinping and China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change – as well as agreements with China’s national government through the Ministry of Science and Technology in Beijing and with the leaders of Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces. Also during the mission, the California Energy Commission signed a clean technology pact with Haidian District and the Regents of the University of California and Tsinghua Holdings, a subsidiary of Tsinghua University, announced a partnership to develop the California-China Clean Technology Funds.
Last week, in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Governor Brown joined New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to form the U.S. Climate Alliance, which has since grown to 13 U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 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 climate alliance co-chairs New York and Washington State and six other members have also joined.
California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, has advanced its nation-leading climate goals while also growing the economy. In the last seven years, California has created 2.3 million new jobs – outpacing most of the United States – cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and has seen its credit rating rise 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.
Governor Brown attended the United Nations’ 2015 Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris and later this year will attend the COP23 in Bonn, Germany to represent subnational jurisdictions that remain committed to climate action. The Governor has also traveled to 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 and Sweden and 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.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Photo Credit: John Larimore, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.