Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2018  
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  Global Climate Action Summit
September 16, 2018

I spent all of last week at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, including a number of associated events.


  • In a word, “inspiring!”
  • My overriding impression was the expression of worldwide shared enthusiasm and shared commitment to stop and reverse climate change. Particularly among those from the United States, the spirit of “We are still in,” despite the Trump administration polices, showed that what cities and states are doing is making Trump largely irrelevant.
  • Every event and presentation included a strong acknowledgment that equity and inclusion must be a critical component of all climate change polices, programs and projects. Those most vulnerable worldwide to the impacts of climate change are the disadvantaged, mostly people of color. Bringing everyone along has to be a priority everywhere. 
  • Pitting economics against sustainability, jobs against the environment, is a false competition. Changing over to a fossil fuel-free planet has the prospect to be the biggest economic boom in history, creating trillions in new economic activity and millions of new jobs.
  • It was widely acknowledged that California is showing the way in the climate change fight while leading economic growth, a positon that we have to continue to enhance. Cities and states are also showing the way, pioneering, testing and proving before federal governments get involved, especially in the US.
  • Young people, reminding us that while they are not even old enough to vote, we are making decisions affecting climate change that will make or break their future.

One of Richmond’s key strategies is its membership in MCE. Read about MCE and CCAs here: How Community Choice Aggregation Fits Into California’s Clean Energy Future CCAs are pushing ahead of California utilities’ renewable energy goals—and facing challenges in sharing the burden with investor-owned utilities.
There were hundreds of celebrities: Jerry Brown, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Benioff, Harrison Ford, Tom Steyer, Dolores Huerta and others from all over the world. But no one matched Al Gore for pure passion.. Al Gore rouses SF crowd: 'We are treating the skies as an open sewer for carbon pollution'
Following are snapshots of activities throughout the week
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Too many events!

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West County well represented at the Global Climate Action Summit

Monday started with a pair of panels sponsored by the Asia Society at “Innovative Urban Solutions for Global Challenges” on Monday, September 10 at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Our panel discussed “Smart Transportation for Healthier Cities” COAL + ICE. While other panel members focused on high tech solution like electric and autonomous vehicles and parking apps, I brought up the importance of a walkable city.

“Let’s talk about walking,” says City of Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “Making cities walkable is a huge challenge” but absolutely needed for healthy cities #UrbanInnovation

I recalled that the recent Contra Costa County Draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan found that 10% of all trips are pedestrian (10 times as many as by bicycle) and that within one mile, 27% of trips are pedestrian, almost as many as by single occupancy vehicle. However, there are many impediments to pedestrians in every city, including lack of sidewalks on many streets and roads and sidewalks that are impassable or unsafe due to cracks and uplifts, plant growth and vehicles blocking them. Most cities  don’t have a successful program for inspecting and maintaining sidewalks. Vehicles blocking sidewalks violate state law and ordinances of most cities, yet enforcement is almost non-existent. Vehicles blocking sidewalks are particularly dangerous for young children who are walking to school, parents pushing baby strollers, disabled people in wheelchairs, and the elderly, all of whom are routinely forced into the street to navigate their neighborhoods.

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Tuesday September 11 opened with the US Conference of Mayors meeting in San Francisco City Hall with the theme “Mayors Leading the Way on Climate – How Cities large and Small are taking Action.”

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A star-studded cast of speakers included Mayor London Breed, Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore and many others. Before reconvening for lunch, mayors in attendance gathered in the rotunda for a press conference an group photo (I’m on the far left). The Global Covenant of Mayors represents 9,149 cities with 780 million people, and a commitment to avoid 1.4 billion tons of CO2 in 2030.

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Wednesday September 12 featured the “Diesel Free by 33” event hosted by the Bay Area Air Quality District, asking mayors, city and county government officials, and leaders of industry and business from all over the world to commit to going diesel free by signing the Statement of Purpose to cut diesel use to zero by the end of 2033.

Steve Kerr was an unlikely keynoter, but he was a big hit, artfully combining sports, climate change and humor. Following the event, we lined up to sign United Against GHGs: Diesel Free by ’33.

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At Diesel Free by 33, a panel discussion “Bringing Leadership Home” with Dave Hudson, BAAQMD Board (moderator), Ricardo Lara, California State Senator, District 33, Libby Schaaf, Mayor, City of Oakland, Senator Scott Weiner and David Cortese, Supervisor, Santa Clara County.

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“Leadership in Our Communities” panel:  Margaret Gordon, Co-Founder, West Oakland Indicators Project, Ken Szutu, Co-Founder, Citizen Air Monitoring Network and Dr. David Cooke, Head of General Thoracic Surgery, UC Davis Medical Center

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Middle school student Alissa Goldfield talks climate change. Visited Alaska and saw retreating glaciers. She participated in student initiatives to encourage walking to school, fighting coal exports, reducing waste, awareness of sea level rise.

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After lunch, I hustled over to a CALmatters PolicyMatters panel discussion that explored the state's ambitious and experimental policies to reduce greenhouse gases. What's worked? What hasn't? And will the policies continue under a new governor and legislature? The panel featured representatives from industry, environmental advocacy and government, including the author of California’s landmark climate bill, former state Sen. Fran Pavley. The panel was moderated by Julie Cart, CALmatters' Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental writer.

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Back to San Francisco City Hall for the Cities4Climate event. Here is Bill Peduto mayor of Pittsburgh on people left behind:” want to turn a coal miner into an environmentalist, put a paycheck in his hand.” We have to bring people into the sustainable economy.

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Mayors from LA, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Paris, and SF leading the charge on climate change

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Tom Steyer talks about the politics of sustainability. Green jobs and heathy air are winning strategies. But at the end of the day, climate change is about environmental justice!

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Al Gore closes out today’s session. Off to a reception hosted by Michael Bloomberg.

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Kat Meis of the Local Government Commission and Senator Bob Wieckowski.

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Jerry Brown, London Breed and Michael Bloomberg at the Bloomberg reception.

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Michael Bloomberg: “We are on track to meet our Paris commitments and there is nothing Trump can do to stop us.”

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Jerry Brown: “We will get it done!”

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On Thursday, September 13, the Global Summit main event starts with a huge protest outside Moscone Center. The overriding theme was “keep it in the ground,” and protestors were critical of Jerry Brown’s fracking policies.

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AFL-CIO coal miner says labor supports fighting climate change. The politics of fear and division threaten our democracy. We need to fund and train workers for a sustainable future. California is showing the way.

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Mark Benioff of Salesforce “ the business of business is making the world a better place.”  “Every CEO has to step up.”

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Starbuck's CEO announced today that the company is pursuing the goal of becoming the world's #1 sustainable company -- from the growing of its coffee beans to the construction of its stores to its operating practices and the products it uses. It has 29,000 stores globally & serves 100 million customers every week. Let's keep an eye on them and hold them accountable on following through on this bold goal. #GCAS2018. #StepUp2018 — at Global Climate Action Summit.

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Bloomberg: “Fighting climate change and growing the economy go hand in hand.”

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Tom Steyer: “NextGen, breaking the corporate stranglehold on America.”

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"Waste is not a noun. It's a verb. Something is not waste until you waste it."
Senator Nancy Skinner

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Xavier Becerra: Low income people are disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change. Climate change exacerbates race and class inequities that affect the prosperity, security and well-being of our families, neighborhoods and cities. The global effort to reduce global warming cannot succeed unless the most impacted communities have the ability to engage meaningfully in policy design and implementation, and represent their interests. This session will highlight grassroots mobilization efforts for equitable climate action, and the work being done to center climate policy around the needs of frontline communities. The session will feature leaders, organizers, and policy-makers from around the globe who are actively pursuing full inclusion in the political and policy-making process to achieve the goal of inclusive decarbonization, while improving health, strengthening our economies, and making our societies more just and equitable for generations to come.

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Dolores Huerta: “We have to educate, organize, motivate and advocate.” “Who has the power.” “We Do!”
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“A sustainability revolution is sweeping the globe, and California that is leading the way.”