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Gov. Jerry Brown's New Effort To 'Fill The Void' On Climate Leadership

Aaron Berkovich / Gov. Brown Press Office

Gov. Jerry Brown delivers remarks in China at Clean Energy Ministerial event.

Aaron Berkovich / Gov. Brown Press Office

In another example of California’s governor positioning himself as a leader on climate change, Jerry Brown announced Wednesday he’s partnering with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on a project called America’s Pledge.

The project’s goal, according to the Brown Administration, is to track climate change efforts by states, cities and businesses across the United States. Brown and Bloomberg hope to fill some of the leadership void created when President Trump announced he’ll withdraw the nation from the Paris climate accord.

Stanford energy economist Danny Cullenward called Brown’s initiative an important step. He added, however, that it will take “a culture of transparency and rigor” to produce long-lasting results.

“The challenge is how do you make these initial impressions last? How do you make these efforts sustain and build into real policy actions that build over time?” Cullenward said.

Brown’s spokesman Evan Westrup said the project will rely on technical expertise from the Rocky Mountain Institute and World Resources Institute. The state’s role, he said, will be to facilitate.

“It’s about bringing all parties to the table, ensuring that they’re bought-in to a process, ensuring that we’re tracking that progress toward our commitments and ultimately filling that void that’s been left by Washington,” Westrup told Capital Public Radio.

He said the initiative won’t require additional state staff or taxpayer spending.

The project is expected to produce a report on climate-related efforts and a plan for how cities and businesses can drive down green house gas emissions.

The governor recently announced that California will convene leaders from across the globe in 2018 for a summit in San Francisco supporting the Paris climate agreement.

Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute for the Environment at UC Davis, said there’s a strong desire across the country and globe for climate leadership. Brown, he said, is positioned as well as anyone to fill that role.

He said he doesn’t believe the governor is overstepping any bounds.

“This is an urgent matter we’re facing. Urgent times call for urgent action,” Houlton said.


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