SACRAMENTO – As wildfires rage across California and the state’s drought stretches into a fourth year, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today penned an open letter to the Republican presidential candidates participating in Thursday’s debate and posed a simple question: “What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”
“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing,” said Governor Brown in his letter to the candidates. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”
In addition to sending the letter to the 17 Republican candidates slated to appear at tomorrow’s debate in Cleveland, Governor Brown’s question was also submitted using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page.
The complete text of Governor Brown’s letter is copied below:
August 5, 2015
Donald J. Trump for President
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Dear Mr. Trump:
Over the past week millions of Californians, from the San Joaquin Valley to the North Coast, woke up to a familiar sight and smell: thick, smoke-filled air. As I write, 10,000 federal, state and local emergency personnel are fighting fires spanning more than 100,000 acres across California – the equivalent of San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Manhattan all being fully enveloped by flames. Dozens of homes have been destroyed, thousands of people have been evacuated, and tragically, one firefighter – a father of two – lost his life battling the fires. Already this year, more than 4,000 fires have charred state land. The average fire season here used to span six months; now it’s year-round.
As the state’s drought stretches into its fourth year, California is also hotter and drier than it’s ever been. Last year was the warmest on record and the three-year period from fall 2011 to fall 2014 was the driest since records were first kept in 1895. These conditions have not only turned the state’s forests into a tinderbox, they’ve left reservoirs at historically low levels and growers, who collectively produce nearly half of American grown fruits, nuts and vegetables, reeling. Billions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of thousands of acres of crops and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost.
Climate change is often discussed in the abstract. But these impacts – in California and the rest of the nation – are real. Worldwide, 2014 was the warmest year on record and 2005 to 2014 was the warmest decade on record. The first six months of 2015 have been even hotter. Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing.
Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?
Continuing to question the science and hurl insults at “global warming hoaxsters” and “apostles of this pseudo-religion” won’t prevent severe damage to our health and economic well-being. Americans, their children and generations to come deserve – and demand – better.
From the lab to the boardroom and even to the pulpit, global leaders aren’t waiting around. They understand there’s no time for delay or denial.
In May, the Pope, issued a call to arms on climate change in his encyclical, Laudato Si’ – a charge he echoed last month at a Vatican symposium of the world’s mayors and governors organized by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences. Earlier this week, the President announced ambitious, yet achievable, nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. More than a dozen major companies – from Google to Walmart – representing more than $1.3 trillion in revenue in 2014, have pledged to act on climate change.
In the scientific community, there’s overwhelming consensus that climate change is real and happening. This conclusion has been endorsed by nearly 200 national and international scientific bodies throughout the world, including those in Brazil, South Africa, India, China, Russia, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and the U.S.
Here in California, we plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels, increase from one-third to 50 percent the electricity derived from renewable sources and reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent all in the next 15 years, among many other efforts. For those that think we have to choose between fighting climate change and growing our economy, let’s not forget that California outpaced the nation last year in job growth.
Protecting our planet shouldn’t be partisan. California’s last chief executive, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, understood this when he signed California’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction targets into law in 2006. So did George Pataki, one of your fellow candidates for President, who in 2003 as Governor of New York, urged fellow Northeastern governors “to develop a strategy that will help the region lead the nation in the effort to fight global climate change”– and helped develop a regional carbon trading program for electricity sector emissions. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson partnered with former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and a number of other leaders to form the Risky Business Project, which detailed the economic risks of climate change in a report released last year. Similarly, George Shultz, who served numerous Republican presidents, wrote this year that those who deny “the globe is warming and that carbon dioxide has something to do with that fact” will “wind up being mugged by reality.” Let’s also remember that it was President Richard Nixon who created the Environmental Protection Agency and signed the modern Clean Air Act into law.
And lest you think this movement is limited to Democrats and only embraced within our borders, the conservatives in England, the moderates in Germany and even the communists in China are on board.
As the fires continue to burn here in California, don’t wait for the smoke to clear. It’s time to act.
Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Governor of California
California Leading on Climate Change
As the clock ticks for national governments to reach a deal to reduce harmful emissions ahead of this year’s United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris, Governor Brown continues to focus on building and broadening collaboration amongst cities, states and provinces, at the “subnational level.” To that end, the Governor traveled to the Vatican this month to participate in a symposium on climate change hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences and to Toronto, Canada for the Climate Summit of the Americas to call on cities, states and provinces to join California in the fight.
At the summit in Toronto, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard signed the “Under 2 MOU,” a first-of-its-kind agreement amongst states and provinces around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. Since the agreement was first signed at a Sacramento ceremony in May, other states and provinces joined in June and July and with the addition of Quebec, a total of 18 signatories in nine countries and four continents have committed to action, collectively representing more than $5.3 trillion in GDP and 130 million people.
Earlier this year, Governor Brown issued an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America and consistent with California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. The Under 2 MOU builds on other international climate change pacts with leaders from Mexico, China, North America, Japan, Israel and Peru. Governor Brown also helped convene hundreds of world-renowned researchers and scientists to issue a groundbreaking call to action – called the consensus statement – which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document.
In his inaugural address this year, Governor Brown announced that within the next 15 years, California will increase from one-third to 50 percent the electricity derived from renewable sources; reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent; double the efficiency savings from existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner; reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Governor Brown’s letter is available as a PDF here.