CA looms large in Paris climate talks

Global WarmingCalifornia was poised to take center stage at the global climate talks hosted later this month in Paris.

“Gov. Jerry Brown plans to lead a delegation of eight lawmakers, including Eduardo Garcia, one of the Coachella Valley’s representatives in the State Assembly,” the Desert Sun observed. “They’ll be joined by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, and many other environmental advocates who want to see world leaders draw inspiration from California.”

Among official delegates set to join him on the trip, the Los Angeles Times reported, Brown brought together Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, her replacement in the next legislative term.

For the governor, the talks represent an opportunity to shift away from haggling with legislators — many in his own party — and toward more expansive conversations with closer allies. “Brown has been working to widen an international pact among cities, states and provinces pledging strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions,” the Times noted. “The agreement, initiated by California and the German state of Baden-Württemberg earlier this year, now has more than 50 participants representing more than 500 million people.”

Commitment and criticism

To cement the deal, however, Brown has been obliged to do some retail politics of his own. For the past year, as KQED has noted, an international tour took Brown from the U.N. to the Vatican, landing him in meetings with Chinese, Indian, Canadian and European officials.

Jerry BrownTouting his achievement, Brown recently drew attention to the significance of his multiregional deal. The total economic size of the included areas, according to KQED, has surpassed the Gross Domestic Product of the United States as a whole. “Parties commit to either reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 or achieve a per capita annual emission target of less than 2 metric tons by 2050,” according to the pact’s terms; “regional governments have agreed to cut their emissions 80 percent or more by 2050.”

But Brown has faced his share of criticism from environmentalists further to his left. Activists, the Huffington Post reported, are demanding he “take a stand against hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in the Golden State. Brown, who is one of the nation’s leading environmental advocates, has faced criticism for years for not opposing fracking,” saying a ban “doesn’t make a lot of sense.” Critics have launched a statewide ad campaign designed to pressure the governor. In it, according to the Huffington Post, community activists, artists and comedians are featured making a plea for Brown to crack down on the practice.

Talking terrorism

Although the climate conference had attracted major attention from the outset, its profile has increased dramatically in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks inflicted on the city of Paris. French president Francois Hollande has overseen a curtailment of the massive program planned for the event, designed to reduce public risk while ensuring attendees could still convey an attitude of unbowed defiance.

In the face of the attacks, the Obama administration expressed its resolve in attending. The president has depicted climate change as a paramount threat to national security. “Impacts of climate change on public welfare also include threats to social and ecosystem services,” asserted the Clean Power Plan, a new set of emissions regulations promulgated under EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “[T]hese impacts are global and may exacerbate problems outside the U.S. that raise humanitarian, trade and national security issues for the U.S.”

Meanwhile, although Brown’s attendance was not jeopardized by the terror attacks, details of the California delegation’s visit may be tweaked. “It’s unclear whether that would affect any plans for California’s presence,” the Times reported separately. Gary Gero, president of the nonprofit Climate Action Reserve helping organize Brown’s delegation, told the Times officials were “still assessing and haven’t made any decisions yet what changes may be necessary.”

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