Vatican City - Building on yesterday’s message to the world’s mayors, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today spoke on the final day of the Vatican’s symposium on climate change and modern slavery at Casina Pio IV, home of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and called on local leaders to “rise up” and “build bridges” to protect our planet and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“In a world with a lot of complacency and a lot of cynicism, it’s going to take imagination, it’s going to take real faith. And that’s why I think it’s very important that this meeting is within the Vatican and the Pontifical Academy,” said Governor Brown. “Pontifex means ‘bridge builder.’ We have to build bridges to our business leaders, to our political leaders. And as the pope said, it’s got to come from the periphery – that’s a new word for mayors. So, peripherals of the world – rise up, you have nothing to lose and you have everything to gain.”
The Vatican’s two-day symposium aims to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery – two pressing, interconnected issues highlighted in the pope’s recent encyclical.
Governor Brown’s Remarks:
I just want to underline how revolutionary this meeting is. I’ve been in a lot of public forums, I’ve never heard anyone speak the way Jeffrey Sachs laid out the challenge. Most of the time, in most of the places, people are not given an opportunity to see the truth of what the world is facing. You may think, because you’re here, this is what people are talking about. I can tell you, people are not talking about it, people are not thinking about it. Our biggest – there are many challenges – but a fundamental challenge is our inability to imagine where we could end up if we don’t take the measures that we have to. It’s hard to imagine catastrophe, it’s hard to imagine extinction. Even to talk about it makes you sound like a crank or a nut. That’s why I was very glad that Jeffrey Sachs said it and I didn’t, because if I said that they would say, “There goes Governor Moonbeam again. This is not the world that we live in.” But in fact, it is the world we live in.
So, we have to think of those instances where radical change occurred. And being right here in Rome where we can walk through the ruins of a great Roman Empire gives us an example. It was defeated not by another empire but by 12 Galileans who had no money, who didn’t even speak Latin, but who began the process of taking down the Roman Empire and replacing it with Christianity. Getting a little more modern, how did the great British Empire get thrown out of India? It was a man who just had a little cloth on, who used to go around in his underwear. Mr. Gandhi who, I think, Churchill was rather contemptuous of. And yet, Gandhi speaks more to where we are than Mr. Churchill or any of the other politicians.
So, I just want to say that I know something about elections; I probably have run more campaigns than anyone in this room. I was counting them up as the mayor was talking, I’ve run 25 serious political campaigns. So I’ve dealt with the money, I’ve dealt with the interest groups, I’ve dealt with the ideology and all the rest of it. In a world with a lot of complacency and a lot of cynicism, it’s going to take imagination, it’s going to take real faith. And that’s why I think it’s very important that this meeting is within the Vatican and the Pontifical Academy. Pontifex means ‘bridge builder.’ We have to build bridges to our business leaders, to our political leaders. And as the pope said, it’s got to come from the periphery – that’s a new word for mayors.
So, peripherals of the world – rise up, you have nothing to lose and you have everything to gain. So, it’s from the bottom. And as a great Jesuit Pierre de Chardin said, everything that rises converges. If we can imagine and lift up our hearts and minds, together we will converge on a new agenda for the world. I can’t say anything more than has been said by the two mayors, by Jeffrey Sachs – just reflect, meditate and disseminate that message because that will be the basis of the change that we must become so the world itself will change with us. Thank you.
California’s Response to Climate Change:
As the clock ticks for national governments to reach a deal to reduce harmful emissions ahead of the conference in Paris, Governor Brown continues to focus on building and broadening collaboration amongst states and provinces, at the “subnational level.” To that end, the Governor traveled to the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, Canada earlier this month to call on states and provinces to join California in the fight. At the summit, 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.