As he prepares to host climate bash, will California’s Brown bring gifts?

With a sweeping climate bill waiting for signature and an oil industry of his own, activists pressure governor Jerry Brown to live up to the vision of his own summit

San Ardo oil field produces the most carbon-intensive crude in California (Photo: Flickr/Loco Steve)

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On the eve of his big climate party, Jerry Brown is facing calls to bring his own gifts.

As he prepares to host a summit of business and political leaders in San Francisco next week, activists and allies are calling on California’s governor to sign SB 100, a law that mandates the complete decarbonisation of the electricity sector by the year 2045.

On Saturday activists at 350.org are mounting “the largest ever climate march the US west coast has ever seen in San Francisco”, according to activists at 350.org.

One of their key demands is for Brown to sign the law and commit to “a fast, fair and just transition to 100% renewable energy and an immediate end to new fossil fuel projects”. The group views the coincidence of the law, which passed the state assembly two weeks ago, and the summit as an opportunity to push Brown to sign.

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Jonathan Underland, communications director for state senator Kevin de León who sponsored the law, directed questions on the timing of the governor’s signature to Brown’s office.

Underland said: “I can tell you the that SB 100 – if signed – will make California the largest economy in the world to move to 100% renewable energy.” He said the bill would create jobs, clean up the air and help beat climate change.

Brown’s office did not respond to questions on when he would sign the law.

In a recent tweet, Brown voiced his commitment to solving the environmental crisis: “In California, facts and science still matter. These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change.”

Kristen James, director of investor-facing NGO Ceres, also called on Brown to sign SB 100 in the days before he meets with heads of business and industry.

“The 100% clean energy target provides a clear market signal to businesses and investors, indicating that demand for clean energy will continue to grow – in turn spurring investment, encouraging innovation, and creating jobs,” she said.

However activists’ demands to Brown go beyond the source of carbon emissions. May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said: “SB 100 is a critical first step toward addressing the worsening climate crisis, but to truly change course, we must end fossil fuel extraction.”

California produces some of the US’ most carbon-intensive oil. Boeve said Brown should “go even further by kick starting the transition off of fossil fuels while protecting Californian’s lives and livelihoods”.

Last month dozens of student protestors blockaded Brown’s office at the state capitol, protesting against drilling operations in California.

Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s climate law institute and representative of the Brown’s Last Chance Campaign told Climate Home News: “Specifically, we have asked Brown to lead by announcing no new permits for oil and gas extraction, fossil fuel infrastructure, or petrochemical projects in California [and to] set a global precedent by becoming the first oil producing state to announce a phase-out of existing production.”

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