Energy

Gov. Jerry Brown Prepares For International Climate Summit 

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is hosting an international climate meeting that will showcase his climate change-fighting chops, but environmental activists still plan to protest the outgoing governor.

The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco — which will begin Wednesday and end Friday — will be Brown’s last major environmental summit before he vacates office. With around 4,500 delegates from around the world expected to attend, the term-limited governor seems to be using the international event as a means to cement his climate change legacy.

“We’re running out of time. There’s been some backsliding since Paris, and our Summit … aims to increase the commitments that have already been made in Paris, to make them even greater, and thereby build the momentum going into the conference of the parties at Poland,” Brown said in a statement, making a reference to the summit’s calls to follow through on the targets set out in the Paris climate accord.

Brown has continually strived to place California on the forefront of the climate change debate. He signed legislation in 2015 that mandates the state obtain 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. As recently as Saturday, he signed a bill effectively prohibiting offshore oil drilling on the state’s coast. There is rampant speculation that the governor will use the Global Climate Action Summit as an opportunity to sign a bill that would mandate California go completely carbon-free by 2050. (RELATED: California Assembly Passes Carbon-Free Energy Bill)

Despite supporting and signing into law numerous environmentally friendly bills during his tenure, activists maintain that Brown is still too friendly with the fossil fuel industry — and they plan to protest him during the summit.

The executive director of Greenpeace USA, Annie Leonard, told the San Francisco Chronicle that an “impressive turnout” of activists who have been training for months in “nonviolent civil disobedience” are expected to protest the Democratic governor. While Leonard admitted that Brown “has done some fabulous things as far as addressing the use of fossil fuels” and the two have discussed their differences in a sit-down meeting in April, the leader of Greenpeace ultimately said “there are no answers he gave us that will satisfy us.”

Preparing for the worst, the San Francisco police department has canceled all days off for Wednesday through Friday, said Officer Grace Gatpandan, a police spokeswoman.

However, protest demonstrations may be the least of Brown’s worries during the summit. Another progressive organization, Consumer Watchdog, has purchased airtime for an ad that features a 9-year-old girl calling the governor “cruel and heartless” for permitting new oil wells. The 30-second ad will play on CNN and MSNBC.

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