LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Jerry Brown, one of the nation’s foremost proponents of efforts to address climate change, on Wednesday called President Donald Trump’s planned withdrawal from the Paris climate accord “outrageous,” while predicting its effect will be short-lived.
“This current departure from reality in Washington will be very short-lived, that I promise you,” Brown told POLITICO in an interview. “I’ve spoken with Republicans here in the legislature, and they’re beginning to get very serious about climate action, so the momentum is all the other way. And I think Trump, paradoxically, is giving climate denial such a bad name that he’s actually building the very movement that he is [purporting] to undermine.”
Brown added, “You can’t fight reality with a tweet.”
News of the president’s decision drew ire from Democrats and environmental groups across the country, nowhere more so than in California, where the state Senate hours later passed major climate legislation requiring utilities to obtain 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2045.
Following the vote, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León told reporters that Trump’s decision was “distressing” but that California “will forge ahead.”
Brown has been harshly critical of Trump on climate policy, but he said last week that he believed the Republican president is a political “realist” and that progress on the issue may be “not as disastrous as we thought a few months ago.”
On Wednesday, Brown said, “I don’t ‘think the Trump deviation will stand.”
“Yes, he’s making this announcement,” the governor said. “But the rest of the world is against him. California is against him. New York is against him. We are for sensible, scientifically-based climate action. And this is unfortunate, even tragic, but we will overcome it. And through Trump’s outrageous action, the contrary movement is galvanized, and we’re mobilizing people, states, provinces and working with other countries to move in a direction that is sustainable and is compatible with what we know we must do to survive.”
Brown is preparing to travel this week to China, where he will participate in an international climate summit, meet with Chinese officials and rally support for local efforts to counteract the effects of climate change. The fourth-term Democratic governor, a longtime champion of environmental causes, has helped sign more than 170 mostly sub-national governments onto a non-binding pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Asked what he would tell Chinese officials about Trump, Brown said, “I don’t think I’ll have much to say about the president. I’ll have a lot to say about California, and I’ll have a lot to say about the 170-plus states and provinces that have joined with California in the ‘Under 2’ initiative.”