One nice thing about being a chief executive, a governor, for example, of a rich and powerful state, is that you can, pretty much on your own say so, create occasions. And when the timing and the content are right, the occasion can become a genuine event.
That’s just what California Governor Jerry Brown had in mind when he convened last month’s Global Climate Action Summit. “We need catalytic events that propel states and people forward to turn the earth away from the catastrophic course we’re pursuing,” Brown told our guest Mark Hertsgaard of The Nation back in July when the event was just an occasion with a title.
Typical of Governor Brown he did not overbid his hand. “This summit,” he said, “is a step, but it’s only a step.”
Which is exactly what Christiana Figueres, the chair of the historic 2016 environmental summit in Paris had in mind when she tasked Brown with seizing the occasion. She wanted a high-profile event in 2018 as an intermediate step between big leaps of progress on bringing climate change under some kind of control.
What she got was a conclave of political leaders, earth scientists and environmental activists to consider what’s been learned since 2016, and what best practices might be applied when government file their mandatory action plans at the next Paris Climate Summit in 2020.
To some people, Governor Brown’s California Summit was nothing but distraction, happy talk in lieu of action, but others say the saw in the particulars of the summit’s presentations and discussions an encyclopedia of good ideas and tactical plans that could rally the planet towards sustainability.
Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s investigative editor at large, where he recently edited their new special issue, Jerry Brown vs. the Climate Wreckers, out now. The magazine’s long-time environmental correspondent, Hertsgaard also reported for The Nation from last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in California. Mark is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency. His most recent books are Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden and Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.