Thousands Protest Gov. Brown’s Climate Change Summit

REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Thousands of protesters took to the streets in San Francisco to decry Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown’s environmental policies, disrupting an international climate change summit being held in the city.

Brown is hoping to cement his environmental legacy by hosting an international climate meeting in San Francisco before his final term as California’s governor comes to a close. The “Global Climate Action Summit,” which began Wednesday and ends Friday, has drawn thousands of delegates from around the world to address the threat of climate change and discuss possible solutions. (RELATED: Gov. Jerry Brown Prepares For International Climate Summit)

While such a worldwide meeting would seemingly appease environmental activists, it has instead drawn crowds of protesters who believe the outgoing governor has not done enough to address the threat of climate change.

Chanting “Tell Brown to keep it in the ground,” several thousand protesters rallied on Thursday, hitting the governor for allowing more than 20,000 drilling operations to take place during his tenure. Critics also claimed the state’s cap-and-trade emissions systems are too generous to fossil fuel polluters.

“Jerry Brown needs to stop oil drilling expansion and if he doesn’t do that, what kind of leader is he?” Alicia Rivera, a community activist in Los Angeles, said to The Guardian. “He has failed in a big way.”

Protesters did not just march in the streets, but actively worked to disrupt the climate summit itself.

A group of activists attempted to barricade themselves in front of an entrance into the summit, leaving participants unable to get in or out of the building. Police were forced onto the scene to remove activists who had chained themselves to gates near the conference. Within the building, protesters disrupted a speech by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another major proponent of environmental regulations.

Participants and speakers at the summit, such as former Vice President Al Gore and actor Alec Baldwin, include some of the biggest names in the environmental movement. The purpose is to bring awareness to the threat of climate change, reduce the world’s carbon emissions and adhere to the restrictions laid out in the Paris climate accord.

However, the protesters countered that the international summit was corporate led and needed more grassroots support. “Join us! Join the community, not corporations!” one protester yelled at a delegate.

The protests in San Francisco follow environmental marches that took place in major cities around the world Saturday.

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