Capitol Alert

Don’t expect California to follow Quebec on this climate pledge

A man uses a bicycle-powered battery charging station at the United Nations climate summit in Le Bourget, France on Dec. 4, 2015.
A man uses a bicycle-powered battery charging station at the United Nations climate summit in Le Bourget, France on Dec. 4, 2015. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

For California, in many respects a leader on climate change, the announcement Saturday that Quebec will contribute to a fund to help poor countries address global warming was notable because it came from a province, not a nation.

The amount of the pledge, about $4.5 million, is infinitesimal compared to the billions of dollars the world’s developing nations are seeking from rich countries to help them adapt to the effects of climate change.

But it was the first such commitment by a sub-national government, and it earned praise from former Vice President Al Gore, among others, at the United Nations climate summit here.

“By contributing to the Least Developed Countries Fund, Quebec, as a federated state, is setting a precedent in international climate funding,” the premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, said in a prepared statement.

While California has close climate ties to Quebec – the state’s cap-and-trade system is linked to the province – it does not appear to share the Canadians’ enthusiasm for using state money to finance work in poor countries.

“I doubt that would commend itself to our legislative folks,” Brown said in an interview last week, when asked about the possibility of the state giving financial aid to developing nations. “But certainly if somebody wants to talk about that, I wouldn’t stop them. But we’re pretty challenged right now – all these pent up demands for various things.”

Last month, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, also reacted coolly to the idea.

“We’re a sub-national,” he said. “We’re not a federal government.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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