Notes From the Global Climate Action Summit, Day 1
Over 4,000 people representing key climate action operators are taking part in GCAS. The sessions on Thursday and Friday, September 13 and 14, 2018, are being streamed live on YouTube, and will be maintained on it, as well as on social media. The YouTube link is
https://youtu.be/FuxHDD_pLf0. The starting conference webpage is
I should start with Michael Bloomberg’s reference to his and Governor Jerry Brown’s “America’s Pledge” Organization (http://americaspledgeonclimate.com) where States, Cities, Colleges, and Industry’s efforts in climate action are joined. They have just put out a new report. Their goal is to satisfy the US Paris Agreement goal of a 26% reduction in emissions by 2025. We are already half-way there. In the last six years, 263 out of America’s 530 coal plants closed. We are not dependent on Washington for climate actions. America’s Pledge represents over 50% of the US population, and if a State, would be the world’s third largest economy. They deal with world governments as if they were a country. They report to the UN. He said that he is calling for supporters to back and vote for Democratic candidates to swing the House this fall. He called for work on reducing pollution from the two largest contributors: transportation and buildings. He is urging our 100 biggest cities to compete for the greatest reduction in emissions. (When we look at election results, we see that large cities hold the Democratic votes, while rural areas are Republican. Half of the world’s population lives in cities.)
The best speaker may be Harrison Ford, who is Vice Chair of Conservation International. His speech was slowly given, and to the point, with short, well chosen statements. (I had trouble naming or keeping up with other speakers.). He emphasized the importance of preserving and restoring natural environments, the Amazon, wetlands, mangroves, and stopping Indonesian man-made fires (and I can add US and Canadian wildfires to that), and that is 30% of what has to be done to stop greenhouse gases. He started with “The Future of Humanity was at stake.” “Don’t forget Nature”. “The destruction of Nature is more polluting than all of the cars in the world.” “If we don’t protect Nature, we can’t protect ourselves.” We must include Nature planning in all climate action plans. In the Amazon we must have reforestation and save indigenous communities.
Ford said that “we must educate and elect leaders who believe in science”. We must be careful of those who pretend not to believe in science for their own gain. Those least responsible will bear the greatest cost. We need action now, more than ever.
Gov. Brown adds that we need the national government, science, and research. The summit makes the climate change a more immediate issue. We have to continually increase climate action. Clean energy is the pathway to economic progress. Smart buildings, residential and commercial, batteries, and others will drive the economy, and its benefits. Businesses know that they have to get with the carrying the movement forward. Climate change is a threat to all living creatures. We also have to move forward with individual actions. If we could reduce the military budget by 25%, we could address climate action. Leaders have to step up more to this challenge.
President Obama pointed out that this is the first generation to feel the effects of climate change. His work with China, India, and other world countries led to the Paris Agreement. 17 US Governors and over 400 Mayors are committed to meeting the goal of the Paris Agreement.
Van Jones, who has a show at CNN, is President of the Dream Corps at
http://thedreamcorps.org He pointed out that poverty was tied to pollution.
The Mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, is part of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an agreement of 400 US Mayors on climate actions. It also connects 90 of the world’s greatest cities with over 650 Million people, and 1/4 of the world’s economy. Their website is http://c40.org. He pointed out that Houston had been subject to three 500 year storms in the last three years. His city (I think this may be just city facilities) is powered by 80% wind and 10% solar.
There is also the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the Urban Climate Change Research Network, and Acclimatize, and Cities4Climate: The Future is Us.
The talk by China was of course the most important, since China is the largest greenhouse gas emitter. Unfortunately, it was given in Chinese by Xie Zhenhua, and YouTube did not have subtitles. I haven’t found a translation on the web yet.
Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics spoke of hundreds of millions of displaced people and conflicts from climate catastrophes. He said that world infrastructure was going to double in the next 15 years, and climate adaptation would be part of it. There is a new Climate Economy report. That included that fact that $26 trillion will be spent on clean energy, and provide 65 million jobs by 2030. Some of the requirements would be a price on carbon, sustainable infrastructure, water management, and involvement of the private sector. Stern is known for “The Stern Review on the Economic Effects of Climate Change” in 2006. The new review is not on the web yet.
A speaker from the European Union spoke, Miguel Arias Canete, and I looked up their goals as a 40% cut in greenhouse gases over 1990 by 2030. They plan a 27% increase in energy efficiency, and at least 27% from renewable energy. By 2050, they plan an 80-95% cut in emissions. We note that light-duty vehicles produce only 15% of EU emissions, and heavy-duty vehicles are only 6%. This is far less than in California, at least. Their proposed auto emissions standards are a 15% reduction of emissions by 2025, and a 30% reduction by 2030.
Director Angel Hsu of the datadriven.yale.edu NewClimate Institute said that with all parties cooperating and scaling up commitments, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1/3 by 2030. Five billion tons of coal a year are burned and lead to 800,000 premature deaths every year.
The President of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumka concentrated on what happens to workers and communities when coal plants close. He said let’s join together and get the job done the right way.
Several companies spoke about plans to be carbon neutral by 2020 or 2022. They included Kaiser Permanente, Starbucks, and Salesforce.
The new governor of New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy, pledged to achieve clean energy by 2050. He planned 3500 megaWatts of offshore wind by 2030.
On the YouTube video, there is a large time gap to the last speaker, below.
The C40 cities will make plans by 2020 to meet the Paris Agreement goals of carbon neutrality by 2050. There are 73 cities worldwide with 425 million citizens. They represent 60% of the GDP in China and Brazil, and 19% in the US. 27 of the cities have already peaked their greenhouse gas output. The US members are Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., Honolulu, Houston, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Santa Monica, and Seattle.
Some speakers also mentioned the necessity of personal actions, but did not give examples or methods of motivating these.
It was very positive to hear of such climate action efforts and goals.