When President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate agreement, it was clear that his administration wasn’t happy with the global efforts at the time to fight climate change. Since then the topic has remained out of the attention of the White House and even Congress. Even as wildfires ravaged some parts of the US, there hasn’t been any talk on climate change or climate action. Despite this, there are a few leaders in the US that are willing to do something including the Governor of California Jerry Brown.
California was affected massively by the wildfires that took down thousands of acres of forest cover. The Governor will host a global climate change conference. The conference comes at a time when the federal government has been abolishing environmental regulations designed to limit the effects of global warming. There’s hope that this initiative will somehow shift the attention of the world from Washington and focus it more on the regional and state leaders who are willing to join other global leaders in fighting climate change.
Brown signed on Monday two very ambitious measures that are designed to propel California to the very top of climate action. More ambitious pledges are expected to come during and after the summit. Some of the agendas on the table include expanding oxygen-producing forest cover, fast-tracking the development, deployment, and adoption of electric cars, and developing new ways to store energy generated through intermittent options such as solar and wind.
California is looking to take a lead role in global climate collaboration. The state hopes that its example will steer the US back to global partnerships to fight climate change. However, there’s still a long way to go. Although the summit will likely attract a number of key environmental experts, it will take time and a lot of effort to convince at least 195 other countries around the world to follow in the standards that California wants to set.
One key issue has always been steering countries away from fossil fuels. Oil and gas have been powering the world for generations. They are both cheap and readily available. Even though the technology to harness renewable energy sources has expanded massively over the years, its adoption at the country level still remains very low. If California has any chance of changing this, it will need to secure very massive commitments from other countries some of which may not be ready to give up fossil fuels yet.
Besides, as we have seen in the Paris Agreement and other environmental agreements, it’s one thing to make a pledge and a completely other one to keep it. Some countries are yet to fulfill their Paris commitments years down the line. Holding them accountable to more ambitious targets like the ones that will be proposed at the California summit is easier said than done. The summit is expected to bring in about 5,000 people. Former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore are some of the high-profile individuals expected to come to the event. The Chinese top climate minister and Starbucks CEO will also be there.