Mr. Trump declared in May that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 pact in which nearly 200 nations pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions and support poor countries’ plans to develop clean energy and protections against weather disasters. That announcement prompted a nationwide backlash from mayors, governors and other local leaders, who vowed to continue the fight against climate change.
The California summit meeting is part of a broad effort to both galvanize local organizations newly energized by the withdrawal of the United States from the climate deal, and to begin making good on pledges that thousands of businesses and municipalities already made in Paris. According to Governor Brown’s office, it will be the first meeting an American state has hosted to support the United Nations’ climate change negotiations.
The former United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres, who will introduce Governor Brown on Thursday night, said groups were working to quantify how much ground the pledges cover across countries and sectors. But having the first meeting in California, she said, sends a strong message to the Trump administration.
“A summit like that takes on even more importance because it has become even more crucial for the United States to see evidence of the fact that the U.S. economy continues to decarbonize,” she said.
Bruce E. Cain, a professor of political science at Stanford University, noted that Governor Brown was no stranger to environmental crusading and that California had a long history of setting itself apart from Washington on environmental policy.
“This is a perfect role for him,” Mr. Cain said. “The only problem is he’s got less than two years to play that role, so for him the challenge is how to segue out of office and still be relevant to the debate.”
Governor Brown maintained that his goal was not to antagonize the president, but to urge everyone to do more.
“It isn’t being cooked up because of Trump,” Governor Brown said in an interview Wednesday. “No nation or state is doing what they should be doing. This is damn serious, and most people are taking it far too lightly than the reality of the threat. You can’t do too much to sound the alarm because so far the response is not adequate to the challenge.”