Horowitz: Global Climate Action Summit Highlights State & Local Leaders Filling the Vacuum

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Rob Horowitz, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTERâ„¢

The recently completed Global Action Summit, co-hosted by Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) and former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, spotlighted how governors, mayors, businesses, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists are aggressively addressing the climate challenge, filling a vacuum created by the Trump Administration’s abandonment of any efforts to reduce the production of greenhouse bases that are the prime cause of a dangerously warming planet.

The professed goals of the Summit were to “bring leaders and people together from around the world to ‘Take Ambition to the Next Level.’ It will be a moment to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of states, regions, cities, companies, investors, and citizens with respect to climate action.  It will also be a launchpad for deeper worldwide commitments and accelerated action from countries—supported by all sectors of society—that can put the globe on track to prevent dangerous climate change and realize the historic Paris Agreement.”

The Summit more than meant its objectives. Governor Brown led the way signing an Executive Order mandating that California will be carbon neutral by 2045. And this ambitious goal is backed up by a comprehensive policy approach that provides a roadmap for success.  Together with China’s Chief Climate Negotiator, Brown also announced that California and China will collaborate on the development of zero-emissions vehicles and fuel cell research.

And Brown was not alone. As the New York Times reported, “Cities like Tokyo, Rotterdam, and West Hollywood signed new pledges to only buy zero-emissions buses after 2025. Companies like Walmart and Unilever rolled out new programs to limit deforestation in their huge supply chains. Dozens of philanthropic groups committed $4 billion over the next five years to fight climate change.”

Additionally, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, and New York; the cities of Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Rotterdam; and Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, and Spain’s Balearic Islands joined an international alliance of government entities committed to phases out the use of coal by 2030( France, Mexico, and Washington State are among the many entities that had previously joined).

And a new form of environmental diplomacy between governors and other nations continued as several governors met with top environmental officials of Canada and Mexico during the Summit.  As David Victor, professor of international relations at UC-San Diego commented previously on this new form of diplomacy, "We traditionally point to Washington as propagating foreign policy. But when Washington leaves the scene on important topics like climate change, others fill in.”

“Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us,” proclaimed Michael Bloomberg in the wake of President Trump announcing his plans to withdraw the United States from the Climate Accords last year.   With more and more local governments and businesses stepping up, Bloomberg’s bold words are being backed up by action.  The Climate Action Summit is one more reason for optimism.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

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