At the Global Climate Action Summit, Brown and Bloomberg Make Bold New Pledges

Mark Hertsgaard

[Editor: But see comment by Rex Weler here:]

The California governor denounced Trump as “a liar, a criminal, and a fool.”

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018Michael-Bloomberg-Jerry-Brown-climate-ap-img

With Hurricane Florence threatening to “kill a lot of people” in the Carolinas, California Governor Jerry Brown opened the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on Thursday by heralding extremely ambitious new steps against climate change and denouncing President Donald Trump’s climate policies as those of a “liar, a criminal, a fool.”

“I’ve signed an executive order that calls for California to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2045,” Brown told a press conference. The executive order goes significantly beyond the SB 100 bill, which Brown signed into law on Monday before also signing the order. While SB 100 commits the state—the world’s fifth-biggest economy—to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from non-carbon sources by 2045, the executive order’s ambition extends beyond the electricity sector to the California economy as a whole, including transportation, buildings, agriculture, and more. Together, the two measures put California on the record with by far the most ambitious climate target of any major power on earth.

“We’re getting it done but we have a very tall mountain to climb,” Brown said, adding, “The metaphor I use is, we’re at the base camp of Mount Everest, and we’re looking up at the long way we still have to go.”

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, was pleasantly surprised by Brown’s executive order committing California to carbon neutrality by 2045. “Los Angeles is now the third-largest metropolitan area in the world behind New York City and Tokyo,” said Garcetti. “We have capped our greenhouse-gas emissions, and now they’re declining. Our citizens’ carbon footprint is one-third the footprint of the average American. We committed back in March to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, but I’m excited to see [the governor] commit the state to moving even faster than that.” Asked to comment on Brown’s statement about Trump’s climate legacy as “a liar, criminal or fool,” Garcetti told The Nation, “Donald Trump will be a footnote of history, the last member of the Flat Earth Society, a man who created problems that the rest of us are solving.”

Back in Washington, the head of the US Federal Emergency Management Administration, Brock Long, told reporters that hurricane Florence will dump “feet, not inches, of rain” on the Carolinas and Virginia. Considerable inland flooding will result, Block predicted, adding, “Inland flooding kills a lot of people unfortunately, and that’s what we’re about to see.”

Climate change is directly worsening the potential impact of Hurricane Florence, according to a peer-reviewed scientific study released on Wednesday. “We find that rainfall will be significantly increased by over 50 percent in the heaviest precipitating parts of the storm,” reported Mark Risser and Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Alyssa Stansfield of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. ”This increase is substantially larger than [would be] expected from thermodynamic considerations alone. We further find that the storm will remain at a high category on the Saffir-Simpson scale for a longer duration and that the storm is approximately 80 kilometers in diameter larger at landfall because of the human interference in the climate system.”

Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, opened the formal summit proceedings by declaring that a separate storm, Hurricane Isaac, “nearly prevented me from being here today.” Issac shifted course at the last minute, continued the prime minister, sparing Barbados from serious damage. “We were lucky today,” said the prime minister. “But is it fair that the livelihoods of our people depend on staying lucky?”