Gov. Jerry Brown, touching down here Saturday for the United Nations climate summit, cast California’s drought as a “wake-up call” on climate change and called for a “great surge of commitment” to slow the Earth’s warming.
In brief remarks on a panel, the Democratic governor began a series of 20 events through next week designed to press world leaders on climate change as they meet to negotiate a pact on the issue.
“Drought is an example of bad things to come,” Brown said. “Droughts have been going on in California for thousands of years. But this one has been exacerbated by the warming climate … It’s just a very specific wake-up call to get going on climate change initiatives, which California’s doing.”
Scientists have attributed California’s drought primarily to natural – not man-made causes – while agreeing rising temperatures have likely exacerbated its effects.
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Speaking to several hundred representatives and onlookers at the negotiating site outside of Paris, Brown said “The existential threat of climate change won’t get done by half measures.” He urged “courage and imagination and political will,” adding “And that political will is not yet fully mobilized.”
Before leaving California, Brown in a memorandum on Thursday ordered his Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to review the impact of greenhouse gas emissions – and measures taken to reduce them – on poor and heavily polluted areas of the state. Some environmental activists have said California’s cap-and-trade program, in which polluters pay to offset carbon emissions, has failed to sufficiently reduce pollution in industrial areas.
Matt Rodriquez, secretary of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency, said Saturday that state officials need to “take a look at the impacts of our programs as they progress.”
“What we know is that emissions occur in some of these disadvantaged communities, and so what we want to know is, what are the impacts of those emissions, what can we do to mitigate the impacts of those emissions, are there things that we can do to help those communities deal with some of the cumulative environmental impacts that often affect those areas,” he said.