Los Angeles, California - In remarks at the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the first cities – Los Angeles and Zhenjiang – to endorse the Under 2 MOU climate agreement and the renewal of a landmark pact between California and China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which oversees China’s efforts to address climate change and much of the government’s economic strategy.
Additionally, as extreme weather and fires ravage California, Governor Brown, in response to questions at a media availability following the event, blasted republican presidential candidates for “dereliction of duty” on climate change on the eve of their second debate in Simi Valley, California.
“Fires are raging and the Sierra Nevada snowpack is the worst it's been in 500 years,” said Governor Brown. “Yet, GOP presidential candidates, to a person, have failed to respond to the profoundly serious threat that climate change represents to the people of the world. That's nothing less than a dereliction of duty.”
The Under 2 MOU is an agreement amongst “subnational” jurisdictions 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. With the addition of Los Angeles and Zhenjian, a total of 23 jurisdictions in 10 countries and five continents have signed or endorsed the Under 2 MOU, collectively representing more than $5.5 trillion in GDP and 141 million people. Los Angeles and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province, California's Chinese sister-state, are the first cities to endorse the agreement.
Governor Brown also renewed an agreement with the NDRC today – initially signed at a ceremony two years ago with China's top climate official NDRC Vice Chairman Xie Zhenhua – representing the first agreement between the NDRC and a subnational entity on climate change. The agreement followed significant diplomatic and business exchanges between California and China over the past two years, including the Trade and Investment Mission to China, the opening of the California-China Office of Trade and Investment in Shanghai and a meeting between Governor Brown and China's President Xi Jinping.
Last month, ahead of the first GOP presidential debate, Governor Brown penned an open letter to the candidates asking them to detail their plan to deal with the threat of climate change. To date, none of the candidates have responded. Instead, the call for action has been met with a continued denial of the science of climate change.
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 cities, states and provinces, at the “subnational level.” In addition to action on the Under 2 MOU, the Governor traveled to the Vatican in Italy and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada in July to call on the world's cities, states and provinces to join California in the fight. These efforts build 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.
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.
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.