Speaking at the largest diplomatic gathering in California in more than 65 years, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today urged political and business leaders to wage a "war on unemployment" by combating global warming and preparing for climate change.
"Everyone seems to have forgotten about climate change, but climate change has not forgotten about us," Brown told the 23rd annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in San Francisco. "The crisis gets closer, but many officials in Washington and along the Pacific Rim act as though they can shush it away with silence and diplomatic delay. That won't work. We have to stop our relentless addiction to fossil fuel and get serious about renewable energy."
Brown addressed the APEC Transportation & Energy Ministerial Conference, a gathering of hundreds of public and private-sector delegates and cabinet-level and ambassadorial officials from along the Pacific Rim. This year's conference marks the largest set of diplomatic meetings held in California since the United Nations convened in San Francisco in 1945.
"We have an immediate world-wide economic crisis that has thrown millions of people out of work," Brown said. "And we are facing another longer-term crisis of global warming that will threaten our food supply and drinking water in much of the world, including here in California. It makes sense to now wage a war on unemployment by making the investments needed to curb global warming and get our communities ready for the effects of climate change. This vital work will create millions of new jobs. Just as President Roosevelt put people to work during the Great Depression building dams, roads, schools and other public facilities, we can now put millions of people to work preparing our communities for the effects of climate change and building renewable energy projects."
The APEC conference brings together private sector experts and public sector officials to promote economic growth through trade expansion and regional investment. Key challenges addressed at the conference include:
* Shifting from petroleum-based fuels to biofuels and electric vehicles;
* Improving systems and technologies to increase the speed at which goods move among production zones, transportation hubs and markets; and
* Eliminating economic barriers for businesses and exporters such as lack of financing, difficulty identifying foreign business opportunities, and rising transportation costs.
As the effects of climate change continue to worsen, meeting these challenges is more important than ever before, Brown explained. Extreme heat in 2010 brought the worst drought in 100 years to the Hunan province in China, killing crops and causing massive swarms of locusts. 2011 was the hottest summer in the United States in 75 years. In July, Arctic sea ice was at the lowest level ever recorded, while Pakistan experienced unprecedented monsoons.
"Although it is not possible to link any of these individual events to climate change, scientists warn us that these are the kind of effects that increased fossil fuel consumption will eventually bring about," Brown said.
In California, Governor Brown has pressed for increasing investment in renewable energy, efficiency and reduced dependency on fossil fuels. In April, he signed legislation to increase California's use of renewable energy to 33 percent by 2020.
"This will bring economic advantages to California as the state develops new sources of clean power, creates new jobs, improves air quality and increases energy security," he explained.