On the 12th to 14th of September, more than 4000 delegates from 27 megacities around the world convened on San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit. Their five key main pillars were focused on healthy energy systems, inclusive economic systems, sustainable communities, land and ocean stewardship and transformative climate investments. Together, businesses and politicians alike shared their successes in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and united to form new commitments to reduce their carbon footprint. More than $4 billion dollars was also put forth by philanthropic groups to deal with this existential threat of climate change.
Fool me once, fool me twice. But what’s new?
Climate Change Conferences have gotten a bad name. So far, national diplomatic efforts to forge a legally binding treaty to reduce carbon emissions have resulted in failure. The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference of 2009 comes to mind as an example where national leaders were too much at odds to come to an effective agreement. Even after the resounding global optimism borne by the Paris Agreement of 2016, results have emerged two years later to show that countries are still not doing enough to react to the crisis. World leaders cannot seem to come to a consensus to take appropriate positive steps to combat climate change. The outdated political engine driving climate conservation is blowing steam and going nowhere.
What’s different now? Well for starters, no national leaders were present at the forefront of this conference. Instead, this conference was largely headed by state governors, town mayors and business executives. This greatly allowed them to forge a more holistic approach to ease the stresses of climate change. Most of these political actors from the U.S.A. were spurred by President Trump’s rash decision to pull out of the aforementioned Paris Agreement. They sought to remind the world that their country still believed in the fight against climate change. A full list of the conference’s breakthroughs are listed here. A new dawn of grassroots climate policy appears to be on the horizon, only time will tell whether what we’ve done will be enough.