With Hurricane Florence threatening to “kill a lot of people” in the Carolinas, California Governor Jerry Brown opened the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco on Thursday by heralding extremely ambitious new steps against climate change and denouncing President Donald Trump’s climate policies as those of a “liar, a criminal, a fool.”
“I’ve signed an executive order that calls for California to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2045,” Brown told a press conference. The executive order goes significantly beyond the SB 100 bill, which Brown signed into law on Monday before also signing the order. While SB 100 commits the state—the world’s fifth-biggest economy—to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from non-carbon sources by 2045, the executive order’s ambition extends beyond the electricity sector to the California economy as a whole, including transportation, buildings, agriculture, and more. Together, the two measures put California on the record with by far the most ambitious climate target of any major power on earth.
“We’re getting it done but we have a very tall mountain to climb,” Brown said, adding, “The metaphor I use is, we’re at the base camp of Mount Everest, and we’re looking up at the long way we still have to go.”
Asked how Trump’s climate legacy will be seen in years to come, the California governor blasted the Trump administration’s decision this week to allow more emissions of methane, the super-potent greenhouse gas that traps at least 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide does. “It borders on not only insanity but criminality,” said Brown, adding, “On the path he’s on, he’ll be remembered as, what: Liar? Criminal? Fool? Take your pick.”
“After the White House announced its intention to pull out of the Paris Agreement last year, leaders from across the country came together to say, ‘We’re still in,’” Michael Bloomberg, the United Nation’s special envoy for climate action and co-chair of the summit, told the press conference. The “We’re Still In” partnership that Bloomberg and Brown organized in the wake of Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in June 2017 now includes 17 states and 400 cities that collectively represent the third-largest economy on earth and whose leaders have pledged to work together to meet the Paris goal of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. “Today, we announce that this ‘bottom up’ movement will put us within striking distance of the US commitment to the Paris Agreement, even with zero support from our federal government,” said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg said that he “will be getting involved” in the midterm elections through his own campaign contributions, hoping to help the Democrats flip the House of Representatives. Criticizing the Trump administration’s recently announced policy of encouraging additional coal burning, despite the administration’s own calculations showing that it will mean an additional 1,400 premature deaths every years, Bloomberg said, “Think about that: 1,400 babies are going to die prematurely every year because of an unnecessary action by the EPA.”