Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Jerry Brown and his Climate Change Diplomacy: California Trying to Save the World...Literally

      I suggest that you read Jeffrey's article in addition to this one because these two articles go hand in hand. His is about a problem, and mine is about a proposed solution.
       Many eagerly anticipate the upcoming climate talks in France, where global leaders are to meet to (hopefully) agree on and implement a plan to help reduce the impacts of global warming, primarily through cutting global emissions. This year, carbon concentration in the atmosphere is at a record high (400 ppm), and the last 10 years have been the hottest on record. Obviously, something needs to be done. President Obama will represent the U.S. at these meetings, as will most other heads of state, but Paris may have an unexpected visitor, someone with whom Californians are very familiar.

       Jerry Brown is set to present a plan of his own at the Paris meetings. This year, he has engaged in meetings with many national and local leaders in an effort to create a better plan to combat climate change. 57 regional governments in over 19 countries and 5 continents have either signed or endorsed the "Under 2 MOU". Signatories of this agreement support the initiative of cutting back on carbon emissions by at least 80% OR by reducing 2 metric tons of CO2 per capita by mid-century. These goals may seem ambitious, and that's because they are. Ambitious as they may be, in the context of worsening global warming, they will be necessary in order to prevent global climatic chaos farther down the road. This project is not designed to release global warming. At this point, we have to be practical. What this agreement will do is limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius (Under 2...). Warming the earth up until that point is still not the best outcome, but doing so will enable us to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

       The contract itself is not legally binding in any way. If you think about it, how can it be? Jerry Brown does not represent the national government, and only the national government can make treaties with other countries. This is only an agreement, but it is an agreement that represents an important, shared goal. The upcoming conference in Paris will be the perfect avenue for Brown to make his pitch and hopefully persuade more countries to adopt his proposition. If you are wondering why Brown is not letting the Obama administration lead the way on this ( Obama has been actively concerned about climate change himself) it is because California is an environmental trendsetter for the rest of the U.S.. California is an environmental pioneer compared to the rest of the United States. For example, California is obligated under a law it passed (AB 32) to reduce 1990 levels of CO2 by 80% by 2050. By 2020, 1/3 of California's energy will be from renewable resources. Solar panels were made cheaper and more available to families. In addition, the total number of "green" cars sold on the CA market (the 9th largest market in the world, by the way) must be increased by 15% by 2025 from the 2006 levels. This is for each auto manufacturer. Moreover, California has a brilliant cap and trade system (follow link or ask a friend who is taking APES) where companies are allocated only 90% of the previous years emissions. Over time, this is a very efficient way to cut down emissions. Based on what California has done (and these are only a few examples of what the the state does), it is evident that it is indeed possible and practical to achieve this ambitious goal. Even if the talks in Paris do not yield anything of substance, there are still things that YOU can do to help fight climate change. If a lot of people making a few, small changes can have a big impact. Here are just a few examples:
-keep tires properly inflated,
-reduce, reuse and recycle--Recycling is good, but reduction and reuse are much more impactful ways to help the cause. For example, if you use zip lock bags, reuse them. And don't buy soft plastic water bottles. Even when they get recycled, they get recycled in to a lower grade plastic...then there is the OIL that it takes to make the bottles in the first place.
-change light bulbs in your house to LED or energystar models.
-monitor water usage. In addition to saving water, using less water at home also saves energy that is used to pump and clean the water.

       Both on a small scale and on a large scale, helping combat global climate change is something that we all should be concerned about. We can all do our part, but we should also support other governments (like Jerry Brown, Germany, Germany, Germany, and Germany) achieve their environmental policy goals.

 Happy Thanksgiving!





No comments: