Following Donald Trump’s failure in leadership on climate change, Jerry Brown steps on world stage

Politico reports: For the past two years, California Gov. Jerry Brown has been aggressively recruiting other state and local governments to sign onto their own, sub-national climate pact.

But that campaign has taken new urgency under President Donald Trump, who announced Thursday that he’ll withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. It’s a reflection of the roiling conflict between the president and the nation’s most populous state, but also the ambition of a governor who, after a lifetime in politics, is seizing an unexpected opening on an international stage.

“I’m on the side of the angels,” the former Jesuit seminarian said in an interview before flying on Friday to China, where he will rally support for his climate policies next week. “I’m going to do everything I can, and people are going to join with me.”

Brown, now 79 and in his final term, has long championed environmental causes, promoting conservation and smog-related policies when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, and overseeing a dramatic expansion of California’s greenhouse gas reduction standards since returning to office in 2011. Roughly 170 jurisdictions, including Canada and Mexico, have endorsed Brown’s non-binding agreement embracing efforts to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, the threshold beyond which many scientists predict catastrophic consequences.

But world leaders, not governors, sign international agreements with the force of law, and for years Brown was relegated to a supporting role. Only after the election of Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, did Brown’s climate diplomacy find new prominence as a counterweight to a Republican-held White House.

“If Obama was still in office, this phenomenon would not be occurring,” said former California Gov. Gray Davis, Brown’s one-time chief of staff. “But Jerry keeps pushing … People, when they think of climate change, see Jerry Brown as a legitimate alternative [to Washington]. It’s not make believe. It’s real.” [Continue reading…]

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