Paris, France - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement on the global climate pact reached today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris:
"This is a historic turning point in the quest to combat one of the biggest threats facing humanity," said Governor Brown. "Activists, businesses and sub-national leaders now need to redouble their efforts and push for increasingly aggressive action."
Governor Brown attended the UN Climate Change Conference at the invitation of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres – the United Nations' top climate change official – and France's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius – the president of the COP21.
Governor Brown spent five days at the conference in Paris, during which time he met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, China's Special Envoy on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua, France's Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, former Vice President Al Gore and a number of world leaders at events in Le Bourget and throughout Paris organized by the French, U.S., German and Chinese governments, UNFCCC, the European Commission, the World Bank, UN Foundation, Climate Group, International New York Times, École Normale Supérieure (ENS) and many others.
Over the course of the conference, the Governor welcomed a total of 58 new signatories to the Under 2 MOU climate agreement – bringing the tally to 123 jurisdictions representing more than 720 million people and $19.9 trillion in combined GDP, equivalent to more than a quarter of the global economy.
The Under 2 MOU is an agreement to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. Signatories commit to either reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels or limit per capita annual emissions to less than 2 metric tons by 2050.
During one of the Under 2 MOU signing ceremonies in Paris, California and the German state of Baden-Württemberg – who together have spearheaded the Under 2 MOU – announced that The Climate Group will take on the role of secretariat for the pact, helping the signatories share expertise and policy solutions and ensuring that governments deliver on their commitments.
The Climate Group is an international nonprofit that works with business, state and regional leaders to promote a prosperous, low carbon future. Last year, with the backing of the United Nations, it helped to create the Compact of States and Regions, a complementary initiative to the Under 2 MOU that works with governments to measure and report progress toward their emission reduction goals and ensure accountability.
Also during the Paris conference, Governor Brown and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that California will host the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial in San Francisco next year.
California's Leadership on Climate Change
While California emits around 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, the state is playing a leading role in broadening collaboration amongst subnational leaders. In recent months the Governor has traveled to the United Nations in New York, the Vatican in Italy and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada to call on others leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. Governor Brown also recently joined an unprecedented alliance of heads of state, city and state leaders – convened by the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund – to urge countries and companies around the globe to put a price on carbon.
These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru and Chile and Governor Brown's efforts to convene hundreds of world-renowned 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.
In October, Governor Brown signed landmark legislation – SB 350 – that codified the goals he laid out in his January 2015 inaugural address to double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings and generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In the same remarks, Governor Brown committed to reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.
Earlier this year, the Governor issued an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by – the most ambitious target in North America and consistent with California's existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050.
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state's most vulnerable populations.