Can the Global Climate Action Summit Continue the Fight on Climate Change?
By admin September 27, 2018

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San Francisco’s Global Climate Action Summit has brought together leaders and citizens from around the world to celebrate achievements of states, regions, climates, and various other stakeholders. Concomitantly, the summit has also served as a launchpad for deeper global obligations and has escalated action to prevent further climate change and uphold the Paris Agreement.

California’s Gov. Jerry Brown kickstarted the summit by signing into a law a bill that would commit California to 100 percent use of zero carbon electricity by 2045. Much to everyone’s surprise, Brown also signed an executive order committing California to complete carbon neutrality by 2045. If the bill passes, the world’s fifth-largest economy would be poised to spearhead the most significant carbon policy commitment ever. The former bill that Brown signed commits California to clean electricity which accounts for only 16% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Brown’s executive order would commit the state to addressing the other 84%.

It’s not easy going green- transportation, industry, building heating and cooling all rely on direct fossil fuel combustion rather than electricity. For the first time, true carbon zero has now become a policy option in the United States. As the only country that has not signed the Paris Agreement, Brown’s executive order could create a unique paradox for the country. Many American cities are turning to renewables for their electricity needs, imposing tougher energy-efficiency standards. Subnational governments could begin to play a bigger role in the fight to combat climate change, but policies need not be top-down. California is an example that national action is not a prerequisite for local activism but the climate challenge cannot be solved by cities, states, nations, and corporations alone. National leaders need to take initiative and steer clear from an “either-or” situation.

That being said, there is still inherent conflict between global goals and national contributions. Of the Paris agreement’s 197 signatories, many are still not on track to achieve targets set in nationally determined contributions (NDCs). In many parts of the world, carbon emissions have continued unabated, raising the question of how countries can uphold their promises. Wanting to keep up momentum, António Guterres, the UN’s secretary-general, unveiled plans for a big climate summit of heads of state next year. Many are also hoping the Global Climate Action Summit will reinvigorate fervor ahead of the UN’s December climate talks in Poland where intended dialogue can show leaders how to address the emissions gap.


For Further Reading:

Challenge at a Climate Conference: Keeping it Green

Global Climate Action Summit

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Calls for Climate Leadership, Outlines Expectations for Next Three Years



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