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Calif Gov. Jerry Brown: ‘America’s de facto leader on climate change’ to gather world leaders for summit

Gov. Jerry Brown of California on Thursday reinforced his reputation as America’s de facto leader on climate change, announcing to cheering crowds in Hamburg, Germany that his state would gather leaders from around the world for a global warming summit next year.

Speaking by videoconference to the Global Citizens Festival in Hamburg, where President Donald Trump is joining other world leaders for the Group of 20 economic summit, Governor Brown said the president “doesn’t speak for the rest of America” in pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change.


“Look, it’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change. That is why we’re having the Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 2018,” Governor Brown told the crowd.

“Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America,” he said. “We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act.” Mr. Trump declared in June that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 pact, in which nearly 200 nations pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions and support poor countries’ plans to develop clean energy and protections against climate-related disasters.


The California summit meeting will bring together the leaders of states, cities, businesses and others who made pledges to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Paris accord and the thousands of others who were galvanized by Mr. Trump’s decision. Days after his announcement, the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg published a letter to the United Nations signed by more than 1,200 mayors, business leaders, university presidents and others declaring “we are still in” the climate deal.

According to Governor Brown’s office, the summit meeting will be the first time an American state has hosted an international climate change conference with the direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement.

“With the Trump administration’s rather comprehensive moves to reverse the Obama administration’s suite of climate policies, the potential importance and the prominence of all these subnational actions and actors is greater now than ever before,” said Robert Stavins, an energy economist at Harvard University.

The former United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres, wearing a T-shirt declaring herself “Stubborn Climate Optimist,” introduced Governor Brown as a “stubborn optimist from a surprising country, the United States.”