Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How Did The U.S. Benefit From The G20 Summit in Hamburg Germany?

In the months leading up to the G20 summit in Hamburg (Germany), citizens were already aware of the reality that the presence of the U.S. President at the conference would prove useless for the world.  Yet again, the world was shown that President Trump appears to want to 'isolate the Unite States' by backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement and adding nothing positive to the world at the summit.  The only contribution which seems to have been made on his part was to suck all of the media attention out of the room with the surrounding controversy with his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Once again, the world and the U.S. are left to ask themselves:

What Good (if any) Came Out Of The G20 Summit For The World And The U.S.?

The answer with regard to the benefit of the world was a 'G19' signing of the continuation to work towards achieving the reduction in harmful levels of green house gases by 20205 -- guided by the Paris Climate Agreement.  In a recent post, I included a letter from the President of the European Council along with the President of the European Commission outlining the important topics to be covered at Hamburg this past weekend.  All items seem reasonable considering that the investment in renewable energy would yield a tremendous amount of jobs and money through trillions of dollars worth of investment.  Here is an excerpt from an article in the 'The New York Times' titled "World Leaders Move Forward on Climate Change, Without U.S.":

The statement and the adoption of the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth ended three days of intense negotiations over how to characterize the world’s response to Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, and it came as this year’s meeting of major world economies here laid bare the stark divide between the United States and the rest.
“This is a clear indication that the U.S. has isolated itself on climate change once again, and is falling back while all other major economies step up and compete in the clean energy marketplace created by the Paris Agreement estimated to be worth over 20 trillion dollars,” said Andrew Light, a senior climate change adviser at the State Department under Mr. Obama.

Right about now you may be disappointed like I was after reading the above excerpt.  This is in line with the response that he received after leaving the G7 conference recently in Taormino - which I wrote about here.  Before that meeting, world leaders and business representatives wrote President Trump letters detailing the enormous amounts of money and jobs which would be created as a result of the Paris Agreement -- letters can be found here.  And still, the President decided to isolate America.   Disappointing to say the least.

All is not lost though with the U.S. moving forward aiming to achieve reductions in actions which negatively impact climate change.  Immediately after President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement, I wrote a blog about the few state and business leaders who decided to step up and go against President Trump's decision.  The opposition decided to rise up and declare that certain parts of the United States would not go along with the withdrawal and continue to work toward achieving a healthier planet instead.

In that blog post, I included a letter which represented an agreement between one of the largest economies in the United States -- that of the state of California and the country China.  The MOU is worth reading.  This gave readers the sense of commitment on behalf of the two parties that would be achieved in the future to come.

With the arrival of the G20 summit, the leftover feelings from the last summit in Taormina still remained strong.  At that summit, President Trump refused to listen to world leaders and announced that the United States would probably withdrawal from the agreement.  That is written about here.  World leaders said that our (the U.S.) president did not fully understand the consequences of the withdrawal.  Regardless, the world was headed in one direction, while the U.S. seems to be headed in another.  Not exactly.

According to California Governor Jerry Brown, in a statement recently, he declared that in 2018 - a "Global Alliance Summit" would be held to stick to the Paris Agreement.  Here is the video below:

And here is the accompanying 'press release' from his official state page:


SACRAMENTO - On the eve of the G20 Summit, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced via video message at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany that the State of California will convene the world's climate leaders in San Francisco, California in September 2018 for the Global Climate Action Summit.
"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," said Governor Brown in his remarks. "President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris Agreement, but he doesn't speak for the rest of America. We in California and in states all across America believe it's time to act, it's time to join together and that's why at this Climate Action Summit we're going to get it done."
The Governor spoke via video message during the final hour of the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany and was introduced by Christiana Figueres, former United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary and currently the convener of Mission 2020 and Global Ambassador for the Under2 Coalition. The Global Citizen Festival was attended by thousands of people and featured remarks from Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and performances from Coldplay, Shakira, Pharrell Williams, Ellie Goulding and others.
California will convene representatives from subnational governments, businesses, investors and civil society at the Global Climate Action Summit to demonstrate the groundswell of innovative, ambitious climate action from leaders around the world, highlight the economic and environmental transition already underway and spur deeper commitment from all parties, including national governments. 
Today's announcement is the product of months of discussions between the Governor and Christiana Figueres, who, following the conclusion of the successful UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, encouraged the Governor to host a summit in 2018 in California to drive further climate action. Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León has also been a key partner and recently joined other state Senators to urge the Governor to convene the world's climate leaders in California.
"The growing threat of climate change demands an immediate and unified global response," said Senate Leader Kevin de León. "California remains committed to a clean energy future and we welcome the responsibility to lead on America's behalf. My colleagues in the Senate appreciate Governor Brown agreeing to hold this global summit and look forward to working with him to welcome our partners from around the world."
The summit, which will be held ahead of the 24th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24), will mark the first time a U.S. state has hosted an international climate change conference with the direct goal of supporting the Paris Agreement. 
Governor Brown's complete remarks are below:

Hello, Hamburg. I'm Governor Jerry Brown. Greetings from California.
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's why we're having the Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 2018.
Come join us - entrepreneurs, singers, musicians, mathematicians, professors, students - we need people that represent the whole world because this is about the whole world and the people who live here. We have to do something and we can do it. That's why we want to join together in this Climate Action Summit in 2018 in San Francisco.
Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris Agreement, but he doesn't speak for the rest of America. We in California and in states all across America believe it's time to act, it's time to join together and that's why at this Climate Action Summit we're going to get it done.
So, see you there. Thanks.
The Governor's video message and additional information regarding the summit can be found at:

California's Climate Leadership
Earlier this week, Governor Brown joined the leaders of Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia and South Australia - all members of the Under2 Coalition - to urge the G20 to reaffirm its support for implementation of the Paris Agreement and to recognize the role of sub-national governments, states, regions and cities, in leading and delivering on climate action.
"All over the world, momentum is building to deal seriously with climate change," said Governor Brown in a statement released by the Climate Group, secretariat of the Under2 Coalition. "Despite rejection in Washington, California is all in. We are fully committed to the Under2 Coalition and the Paris Agreement."
The Under2 Coalition is an international pact among cities, states and countries committed to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius - the level of potentially catastrophic consequences - by either reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from 80 percent to 95 percent below 1990 levels or holding emissions to less than 2 annual metric tons per capita by 2050. The coalition now includes 176 jurisdictions on six continents, collectively representing more than 36 countries, 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion GDP - equivalent to more than 16 percent of the global population and 39 percent of the global economy.
Last month, Governor Brown was named Special Advisor for States and Regions ahead of this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) by the Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama - incoming president of COP 23. This followed meetings with Germany's top environmental official, Minister Barbara Hendricks, in San Francisco, and with China's President Xi Jinping during the Governor's week-long trip to China, where he also met with China's Special Envoy on Climate Change and signed new agreements with China's national government through the Ministry of Science and Technology in Beijing and with the leaders of Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces. 
In June, Governor Brown also formed the U.S. Climate Alliance with the Governors of Washington and New York in response to the White House's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The alliance now includes 13 U.S. states - led by both Democrats and Republicans - committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Climate Alliance complements the goals of the Under2 Coalition.
In March, Governor Brown reaffirmed California's commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and the state's efforts to curb carbon pollution, which include establishing the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America and the nation's toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants. The Governor has also signed legislation that directs cap-and-trade funds to greenhouse gas reducing programs which benefit disadvantaged communities, support clean transportation and protect natural ecosystems. 
This action builds on landmark legislation the Governor signed in October 2015 to generate half of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings. Governor Brown has also committed to reducing today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years; make heating fuels cleaner; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.
The Governor has also traveled to the United Nations' 2015 Climate Conference (COP 21) in Paris, the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Vatican and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto to call on other leaders to join California in the fight against climate change. These efforts build on a number of other international climate change agreements with leaders from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel, Peru, Chile, Australia, Scotland, Sweden and Germany as well as Governor Brown's efforts to gather hundreds of researchers and scientists around a groundbreaking call to action called the consensus statement, which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, continues to advance its nation-leading climate goals while also growing its economy faster than the rest of the United States. In the past seven years, California has created more than 2.5 million new jobs, cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and boosted its credit rating to the highest level in more than a decade. 
The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state's most vulnerable populations.

As a scientist, I am proud of our (I live in California) governor.  Governor Brown realizes the importance of transitioning the world to a more sustainable (greener, renewable) place to live.  A world that relies on clean forms of energy -- a forward looking world.  The supply of energy should be as clean as possible.  Jobs would be created which match our mission -- in the renewable energy sector.  The sector is seeing exponential growth over the last year and a half - despite popular criticism.  Mentioned in the excerpt above, 1.8 billion people along with $28.8 trillion in GDP and 39% of the Global economy.  Who wouldn't want to join such an agreement?  The potential for sustainable growth over decades to come is enormous.

This is in complete contrast to the current President's administrations outlook.  Their outlook is in the "rear view mirror".  Under President Trump's administration, the direction in which the world is headed is 'back in time' - to the polluted oil and gas era.  The era of free for all chemical use without regard for the environment.  In fact, the direction from which we came is a direct reason we find ourselves saddled with 'superfund sites' which desperately need clean up.  A 'superfund site' is defined as follows from 'Wikipedia':

Superfund is a United States federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants. It was established as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA).[1] It authorizes federal natural resource agencies, primarily the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states and Native American tribes to recover natural resource damages caused by hazardous substances, though most states have and most often use their own versions of CERCLA. CERCLA created the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The EPA may identify parties responsible for hazardous substances releases to the environment (polluters) and either compel them to clean up the sites, or it may undertake the cleanup on its own using the Superfund (a trust fund) and costs recovered from polluters by referring to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Approximately 70 percent of Superfund cleanup activities historically have been paid for by parties responsible (PRPs) for the cleanup of contamination. The exceptions occur when the responsible party either cannot be found or is unable to pay for the cleanup. Until the mid-1990s, most of the funding came from a tax on the petroleum and chemical industries, reflecting the polluter pays principle, but since 2001, most of the funding for cleanups of hazardous waste sites has come from taxpayers. Despite the name, the program has suffered from under-funding, and Superfund cleanups have decreased to a mere 8 in 2014. As a result, the EPA typically negotiates consent orders with PRPs to study sites and develop cleanup alternatives, subject to EPA oversight and approval of all such activities.

Here is a list of the current 'superfund sites' in the United States.  Clearly, we as a nation would like to move toward a cleaner environment rather than a more toxic one.  That is why each of us needs to do our part and support measure which grow the environment based on sustainable growth.  Sustainable growth is clearly achieved when all of the citizens of the world are on the same page -- investing in clean renewable energy.

Taking responsibility for the damage to the environment through passing measures which lead us (as a nation and a world) toward sustainable growth is of the upmost importance.  Each of us deserve to live in a pollution free environment.  In order to achieve or define such an environment, our decisions moving forward must show that we are interested.  Governor Jerry Brown is showing the world that despite what the President has stated in public forums, he is willing to have California and other states from the U.S. head toward achieving the agreed upon limits at the Paris Accord in 2015.

He should be applauded for his great leadership of California along with his unquenchable thirst for sustainability on a global level.  Keep up the great work Governor Jerry Brown.

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