California, Jalisco and Ontario Featured at the California Climate Change Symposium

26 January 2017

SACRAMENTO – Hundreds gathered at end of the two-day 2017 California Climate Change Symposium to hear the closing keynote, “Global Climate Collaboration through the Under2 Coalition.” For some audience members – ranging from local and state government, science, academia, industry, non-profit, and the community – it was the first time hearing about the Under2 Coalition.

The Under2 Coalition is a global climate agreement among cities, states, and countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the level of potentially catastrophic consequences.

The Symposium convened over 800 participants with a total of 120 presenters distributed in 16 panels. The closing plenary featured California, Jalisco, and Ontario, which are in fact three of the 12 founding signatories of the Under2 Coalition. Whereas the previous panels of the Symposium delved more into the science and topics regionally, the closing keynote focused on the broader policy and the status internationally.

Ken Alex of California, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and Senior Advisor to Governor Brown, introduced the panel and said, “We form something of a North American triumvirate in terms of our efforts around climate and it’s been a partnership that has already been very fruitful.”

Minister Glen Murray, Ken Alex, and Dr. Sergio Medina

Alex summarized the history of the Under2 Coalition and outlined its three main work streams: implementing greenhouse gas inventories including monitoring, reporting, and verification of data; developing 2050 mid-century deep decarbonization pathways; and forming working groups around specific policy issues. He said, “We’re working at the subnational level because we are motivated to do it and we think we have the ability to do it more quickly and drive those techniques into the international realm.”

Next spoke Dr. Sergio Medina of Jalisco, Mexico, Director of the Energy Agency. He started off by reading a Twitter quote in Spanish from the Governor of Jalisco, “The words of Jerry Brown, Governor, encourage us to redouble our efforts. ‘California is not turning back, not now, not ever,’” referring to Governor Brown’s State of the State address.

Medina then explained seven strategies underway in Jalisco, including a commitment to 100% renewable energy for government operations by 2050, a law to create an environment fund and set up environmental taxes, and the implementation of first ever energy audits on all buildings of the 159 state entities. He urged for speeding up the energy transition and technology exchange, and working closely with academia and the science community at the local level.

Next followed Minister Glen Murray of Ontario, Canada, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. Murray drew parallels between the current United States administration and a previous Canadian federal administration that pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol, noting, “It was interesting that when we had the most disruptive, hostile government we’ve ever had on climate and environmental issues, we actually saw the highest level of climate action.”

Some of Ontario’s achievements include closing down all of its coal plants, linking with California’s cap and trade program, and retrofitting all colleges and universities. Murray underscored that subnational governments and municipalities are the most important actors with the community, business, academia, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. He also underlined the need for a strong alliance and communication between scientists, the public, and politicians.

The closing keynote featuring Under2 delegates at the California Climate Change Symposium symbolized climate collaboration across North America. As said by Murray, “We will not win by thickening our borders. We will win by deepening our commitment to each other and to the planet.”

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