California Governor Jerry Brown emphasized that we must make the investment required to address the challenges of climate change, at his December 15th conference in San Francisco on “Extreme Climate Risk and California’s Future.” Joined by climate change leaders and leaders from various other sectors including health, Governor Brown went on to say that the longer it take us to reduce emissions, the higher the costs of adaptation and mitigation will be.
The conference focused on the risks of unpredictable and extreme weather events caused by climate change and on how our communities can prepare and adapt. It built on the findings of the special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Conference speakers included Nobel Prize winner and IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri.
Chairman Pachauri stressed that we will face more heat waves and other extreme weather events. He spoke about the unquantifiable loss of ecosystem services, lost lives, and loss of cultural heritage due to climate change. He highlighted the importance of looking for co-benefits as we grapple with the climate change challenge.
Among other issues, the conference addressed climate change and health at the state and national levels. Dr. Mark Keim, senior science adviser at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, focused on disaster risk reduction and the need to invest in climate adaptation. Dr. Edward Moreno, director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health, stressed the need to support the poorest communities in California.
Kudos to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) (particularly Linda Rudolph and Kathy Durbin) for making sure that health was on the conference agenda. CPHD invited health related groups including PHI’s Center for Public Health and Climate Change to be part of this multi-stakeholder, intersectoral event.
Closing the conference, Arnold Schwarzenegger — who signed into law California’s landmark greenhouse gas-reduction legislation when he was governor — made the link between climate change and health as well as national security and the economy. “If you go green,” he said, “the economy goes up.”
Read coverage of the conference from the Washington Post and the San Jose Mercury News.