Governor Brown Addresses Global Leaders at United Nations Climate Summit


NEW YORK – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined world leaders, including former Vice President Al Gore, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, where he delivered remarks on California’s global leadership in combating climate change.

“I believe that from the bottom up, we can make real impact and we need to join together,” said Governor Brown. “We’re signing MOUs with Quebec and British Columbia, with Mexico, with states in China and wherever we can find partners, because we know we have to do it all.”

The United Nations Climate Summit convened more than 120 heads of state and government to announce their vision and commitment to reaching a universal and meaningful climate agreement in 2015.

Governor Brown delivered remarks during the Summit’s “Private Sector Forum,” which gathered national leaders and CEOs to discuss the issue of pricing carbon and emissions. Other speakers included former Vice President Gore, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban, President of Peru Ollanta Humala, President of France François Hollande, World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and World Business Council for Sustainable Development President Peter Bakker.

He later spoke at a “Multilateral and Multi-Stakeholder Action Announcements” panel focused on the importance of local action to combat climate change. The panel included remarks from Counselor to President Obama John Podesta and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg.

Ahead of the Summit, Governor Brown joined other West Coast leaders in calling for action on climate change. He also signed legislation to continue the state’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase solar energy use, prepare for the effects of climate change and strengthen California’s best-in-the-nation electric vehicle market.

The Governor’s remarks at the “Private Sector Forum” and “Multilateral and Multi-Stakeholder Action Announcements” panel are copied below.

Remarks by Governor Brown at UN Private Sector Forum

The California story is a very hopeful one. It’s a story of Republican and Democratic governors pioneering innovative climate strategies. It’s not been easy, it’s not without contest, but we’re making real progress. In fact, the people themselves have been involved when those who oppose carbon pricing put the measure to a popular referendum. And in that vote just a few years ago, the people voted overwhelmingly to stay the course.

So, what do we have? Well, we’ve got a goal to have one-third of our electricity sector renewable by 2020. We’re at 23 percent today and we will make it probably in the next three or four years, and then we’ll go beyond that. We have a goal of a million electric cars – we have 100,000 on the roads today – and we have the toughest vehicle emission standards anywhere in the country. In fact, the country now has adopted the California standard. And I want to point out that that standard was developed under a special prerogative given to California when Ronald Reagan was governor and Richard Nixon was president. Our climate law was enacted by my Republican predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So, the efforts that we’re making in California don’t derive from one party or one politician – they’re the work of activists, business people and elected representatives. We also, over the last 30 years, have developed the toughest building standards anywhere in the country, which have saved California literally tens of billions of dollars in avoided energy costs. Same thing with appliance standards.

So, now the great challenge is to stay the course. Even today, as we speak, there are advertisements being purchased on the airwaves of California in an attempt to persuade the people that cap-and-trade should somehow go away. That it’s going to raise the price of oil. Luckily the price of oil has been coming down ever since those ads went on the air just a month or so ago. So, somebody’s watching over California.

Carbon really has been at the basis of the incredible progress and prosperity and affluence that so many people enjoy. But that progress now has the dark shadow of the toxicity of carbon itself. The pollution, the smog, the health effects, the rising sea level – in California, the forest fires which are now burning for more days than historically was ever imaginable – it’s real, it’s here and we’ve got to put a price on carbon. Which we have, we have a $13 price on carbon and our cap-and-trade system covers 85 percent of greenhouse gases. And yet, California is expected to outproduce – in terms of GDP, California is looking forward to very solid growth, higher than the national level.

So you can do carbon pricing, you can do renewable energy, you can do building standards and you can get it done and you can still have a very vibrant economy. So that’s what we have and I want to thank all of you here today because this is a heroic challenge that we have to face. And this is probably the greatest assemblage of committed people to get it done. So, I think we’re on the right path. Thank you.

Remarks by Governor Brown at UN Multilateral and Multi-Stakeholder Action Announcements – Cities Panel

California very strongly supports the efforts of states and cities to do their part to combat climate change. In California, we have emphasized in recent years building standards and appliance standards and a renewable energy goal. But now instead of just asking how many solar installations we have or how many wind installations or geothermal, we are putting the emphasis on our climate footprint. And as of today, California generates about 450 million tons and we’re going to reduce, by 2020, at least 25 million tons. And then in the next six months, we’re going to set a goal for 2030 that will be more ambitious, that will require more technology and will also require heightened political will.

California has adopted a cap-and-trade system under the former governor, Governor Schwarzenegger. Passed what was called Assembly Bill 32 that set in motion a number of projects, including a cap-and-trade system which has been working now for two years. We’ve had several auctions, the price of carbon has remained steady at something over $13 a ton and the state has actually collected over $800 million. And that money is being directed into projects – renewable energy, efficiency, low-income housing near transportation hubs, high-speed rail and other projects to facilitate a greener future.

The challenge of continuing down the path of tightening standards for efficiency – we will increase our one-third renewable energy goal for the electricity sector beyond the one-third. We’re at 23 percent renewable today, we should be at 33 percent within the next four years and then we’ll consider going the next step and the next step beyond that.

I believe that from the bottom up, we can make real impact and we need to join together, not just other cities in America – we’re signing MOUs with Quebec and British Columbia, with Mexico, with states in China and wherever we can find partners, because we know we have to do it all. From the bottom up, from the top down and the collective effort of the world community to deal with the existential threat of climate change. Thank you.