Vatican City - One month after the release of Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', and just months before the world's leaders convene in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. will join the pope, representatives of the United Nations and mayors and local governors from across the globe at the Vatican this week to discuss two of the world's greatest challenges: climate change and modern slavery.
“In the spirit of the pope’s encyclical, this unprecedented gathering of global leaders is a wake-up call to face up to the common threats of climate change and human exploitation,” said Governor Brown. “This is about the future of humanity and how we as human beings live and treat one another and the natural world around us.”
The two-day event, hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, aims to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery - two pressing, interconnected issues highlighted in the pope's recent encyclical.
As the clock ticks for national governments to reach a deal to reduce harmful emissions ahead of the conference in Paris, Governor Brown continues to focus on building and broadening collaboration amongst states and provinces, at the “subnational level.” To that end, the Governor traveled to the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada earlier this month to call on states and provinces to join California in the fight. At the summit, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard signed the “Under 2 MOU,” a first-of-its-kind agreement amongst states and provinces around the world 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.
Since the agreement was first signed at a Sacramento ceremony in May, other states and provinces joined in June and July and with the addition of Quebec, a total of 18 signatories in nine countries and four continents have committed to action, collectively representing more than $5.3 trillion in GDP and 130 million people.
Earlier this year, Governor Brown issued an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – 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 Under 2 MOU builds on other international climate change pacts with leaders from Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel and Peru. Governor Brown also helped convene hundreds of world-renowned researchers and scientists to issue a groundbreaking call to action – called the consensus statement – which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
In his inaugural address this year, Governor Brown announced that within the next 15 years, California will increase from one-third to 50 percent the electricity derived from renewable sources; reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent; double the efficiency savings from existing buildings and 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. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.