Sacramento, California - 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 debates 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 debates in Cleveland, Ohio, Governor Brown’s question was also submitted using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page.

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 last 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 is 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 earlier 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.