Following the Trump administration’s announcement that it would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, a number of individuals and groups — from governors to business executives — said they would honor the deal anyway.
Until now there has not been formal consensus on what such an impromptu agreement would look like, but that is about to change with California Governor Jerry Brown welcoming government leaders and business executives to San Francisco for a conference on climate, reports The New York Times.
The meeting will be the first of a movement that has been called “We Are Still In” — with Jones stating to The New York Times that he is feeling pressure to act, with little having been done thus far by the movement to counteract the decisions made by the federal government.
Brown will head the meetings, which will include government leaders, non-profits and business people from all over the world. The goal is to discuss ways that governments and businesses can work together to reduce climate emissions.
Conducted in the shadow of major wildfires in the state, the pressure is on for those attending the meeting. Dangerous climate impacts are affecting everyone around the world, with CNN reporting that 2018 is tracking to be the fourth-hottest year since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) started keeping records.
#WeAreStillIn has emerged as the face of America’s climate movement. Spanning all 50 states, representing 150+ million people & half of the US economy, we are taking action to ensure the US remains a global leader in reducing emissions. Join us: https://t.co/sBsvYRMyU6 #GCAS2018 pic.twitter.com/1zHjSUbO1K
— We Are Still In (@wearestillin) August 29, 2018
It is not just the United States pushing back against Paris — or at least failing to meet promises made by the agreement. Australia’s former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, changed some key climate policies in an attempt to appease his more conservative base, according to The Guardian.
Many countries aren’t meeting their targets, and this meeting will be a big test to see whether private industry can partner with the lower levels of government to make an impact on emissions — regardless of federal government policy on the issue.
“There’s a real push to make sure that this ‘We Are Still In’ movement becomes something more than just a symbolic exercise. This is an opportunity for them to cement their diplomatic relevance,” said Gwynne Taraska, a senior fellow at Climate Advisers, to The New York Times.
California, which is the fifth-largest economy in the world, has been a leader in the United States on climate change. That was echoed on Monday when Brown signed a bill that requires utilities in the state to get all of their electricity from carbon-neutral sources by 2045. The moves made by California have encouraged other states, including Oregon and Washington, to join in.
Cities and other municipalities are also getting on board with California’s ideas, more than 70 cities signing onto a goal aimed at sourcing more renewable energy. Leaders from many of these cities will also be on hand in California for this summit.
Perhaps the biggest challenge posed at the meeting will not be greening the electrical grid — something many states have already begun work on — but rather dealing with the other emissions-producing industries such as transport and agriculture. To that end, Brown has pledged to have 5 million electric cars on California’s roads by 2030.
The meetings will face large hurdles, with some gargantuan goals to tackle, and will serve as a critical test of this alternative approach to combat climate change. Time will tell if the summit, and the parties thereof, can turn talk into action.