Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown’s MOU life in Paris

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with reporters in Paris on Dec. 6, 2015.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with reporters in Paris on Dec. 6, 2015. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, hearing one night this spring that Jerry Brown planned to “convene government leaders from around the world” for a climate change announcement, smiled broadly and surmised that the governor had “another MOU” in the works.

It was a safe bet. The memorandum of understanding, a non-binding instrument, had become Brown’s go-to on climate change in the run-up to the United Nations summit now underway outside of Paris.

All year, Brown hounded jurisdictions from around the world to sign on to a pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“He’s staking his claim,” Newsom said. “It’s all Jerry now.”

614 millionnumber of people represented by signatories to global warming agreement

On Sunday, at the Paris residence of Jane Hartley, the U.S. ambassador to France, Brown signed up eight more jurisdictions to his agreement, including the cities of Oakland and Seattle and jurisdictions in Australia, Spain and Brazil.

The occasion brought the total number of signatories to 80. According to Brown’s office, they represent more than 614 million people and a combined gross domestic product equivalent to nearly a quarter of the world economy.

While world leaders try to negotiate a new climate pact, Brown argues that states and other sub-national governments can band together to pressure them on the issue from below.

Whatever happens in Paris, he told reporters Sunday, “it’s going to take local jurisdictions putting the pressure on their own nation-states.

Start signing.

Gov. Jerry Brown, urging signatories to his climate change memorandum of understanding

“So I think that’s the key,” he said. “We’re on the front lines in the battle to combat climate change, and we intend to exercise that responsibility.”

In a ballroom at the residence, Hartley said, “It heartens me to see so many of you dedicated to solving this problem.” Pedro Taques, the governor of Mato Grosso, Brazil, thanked Brown through an interpreter “for being the leader of this process.”

Then Taques and representatives of the other jurisdictions signing on to the agreement sat at a long table. Brown hovered behind them.

“Start signing,” he said.

Afterward, walking into his next event, Brown remarked on how many jurisdictions had signed up.

“We can start our own U.N., maybe,” he said. “The United Regions.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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