Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown announces trip to China, the world’s ‘great hope’ on climate change

Gov. Jerry Brown jabbed repeatedly at President Donald Trump’s skepticism of climate change on Thursday, contending that China has stepped into the role of the world’s “great hope.”

Brown, at a conference on carbon reduction, also announced he would be traveling to China in June to promote environmental protection.

“It’s very paradoxical that we have a president who says two things: No. 1, climate change is a hoax. That’s his first value proposition,” Brown said. “His second is that it was created by China. And the truth is that China is on a path to do a hell of a lot more than the Trump administration in dealing with climate change. So, if there’s any hoax, it’s in the White House, not in Beijing.”

Brown, who has made combating climate change and drawing public attention to its threat a signature issue, said later Thursday that Mexico and Canada were joining the growing list of localities and countries joining California in pledging to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. He said while he’s tried to refrain from making the issue about partisanship, the Republican Party clings to “a slavish adherence to the non-belief in anything to do with climate change.”

“It’s doctrinally deviant,” Brown said. “And we got to change that somehow. Because, if not, you can’t have half the political force in America, the most powerful country in the world, saying ‘No, it’s not true.’ And you got the leader saying ‘it’s a ‘hoax.’ ‘It’s a Chinese hoax.’

“That’s so implausible, and so stupid,” Brown said of Trump’s remarks, “that the fact that it’s being said takes my breath away. I mean, it’s amazing. If you can say that, you can say anything. What’s left of democratic discourse if there’s no anchor in syntax, or the English language, or grammar?

“Where are you? You’re in an ‘Alice and Wonderland’ world.”

Brown did not provide details of his June trip to China, and his spokesman said the schedule is still being formulated. The Democratic governor traveled to China in 2013, and was in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in late 2015. Brown said despite the agreements reached, greenhouse gasses are still being generated and their quantity and presence in the world is growing.

“Most people don’t want to think about catastrophe,” Brown told the San Francisco audience Thursday. I am not one of those people. I like to think about catastrophe.”

It’s not enough to simply navigate carbon markets, he urged. Instead, the world needs to de-carbonize.

“We have to stop using carbon for our prosperity,” he said. “And stopping carbon will be like stopping a heroin addiction, because we are addicted to carbon in a sense that we are repeatedly using it, and we get a tremendous high. (It’s central) to our whole way of life.”

While the address was a chance to renew his commitment to extending the state’s cap-and-trade system beyond 2020, it also provided an opportunity for Brown to disclose that he’s been rereading one of his treatises that he took with him after leaving the Jesuit seminary.

The volume, which he said was written by an obscure Spaniard from the sixteenth century, established that two key elements of the spiritual life are prayer and mortification.

“And both are needed to deal with Trump,” Brown said to laughter. “We need prayer because we need divine assistance. And we need mortification because you got to tighten your belt, you got to do difficult things. You got to go against yourself ... We got to go against the flow ... Because the flow is now leading us to catastrophe.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago