Brown, Bay Area Activists in NYC for U.N. Climate Summit

By Isaac Silk

 People protest for greater action against climate change during the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York City. The march, which calls for drastic political and economic changes to slow global warming, has been organized by a coalition of unions, activists, politicians and scientists.  (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
People protest for greater action against climate change during the People's Climate March on Sept. 21, 2014 in New York City. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of climate change protesters, including a large delegation of Californians, descended on New York this past weekend ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit.

Some arrived aboard the People’s Climate Train, which left from Emeryville on Sept. 15. One is Sister Ayya Santussika, a Buddhist nun who practices in Mountain View, who attended several interfaith gatherings while in New York:

“Of course climate is at the nucleus of [the gatherings] because it's affecting every one of us and everything. But the power of coming together as people of different faiths and speaking about this as a moral issue. ... I think this is powerful."

El Cerrito resident Zia Grossman-Vendrillo was also in attendance at the People's Climate March.

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“I'm not sure the U.N. can have real power.” said Grossman-Vendrillo, “I want them to bring about dramatic change, but feel a lack of belief that they will be able to do anything. The corporations are too powerful.”

Jerry Brown Joins the Party

Gov. Jerry Brown is also in New York and is scheduled to speak before the Climate Summit on Tuesday. He is expected to tout California’s efforts to fight climate change and to urge the international community to use the state’s actions as a policy model.

In a video message recorded ahead of the U.N, summit, Brown spoke of climate change as an existential challenge that requires immediate action. “Carbon pollution kills,” said Brown. “It undermines our environment, and, [in the] long term, it’s an economic loser.”

California has long been a leader on climate change issues. In 2002, then-Gov. Gray Davis signed the first state bill to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32 in 2006, requiring California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

And on Sunday, Brown signed a batch of bills aimed at upping the number of zero-emission cars in California, speeding up the permitting process for rooftop solar panels and developing a strategy to deal with various climate pollutants.

Brown argued that regulating climate change has not hindered the growth of the Californian economy. However, business groups and the Republican candidate for governor, Neel Kashkari, are raising concerns about an increase in gasoline prices set to kick in this January.

The so-called hidden gas tax comes as part of the ongoing rollout of California’s cap-and-trade program.

Despite the opposition, California continues to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions. The protesters in New York are pressing the international community to do the same.