Coastal Preservation, Updates, Climate Change
September 25 2018

Reflections on the Global Climate Action Summit

by Stefanie Sekich-Quinn

Surfrider Foundation attended the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) as an official delegate. Over 4,000 delegates from around the world were present—making it the largest climate change summit held in the U.S.  In the months leading up to the summit, Surfrider participated in a committee of government and nongovernmental representatives that helped develop the Ocean-Climate Action Agenda and related ocean programming for the GCAS. 

The summit and affiliate events were beyond inspiring.  While the celebrity star power was exciting (see Harrison Ford’s impassioned speech below) the most moving aspect of the conference was hearing pledges from world leaders about how they plan to curb climate change by reducing emission and implementing adaptation measures.

Governor Brown definitely earns MVP for the summit, not only was he the lead host of the summit, but he committed California to aggressive goals to combat climate change and he closed the summit by saying: “we’re launching our own damn satellite” in order to find out exactly where pollution is coming from and further analyze climate change impacts on the Earth. 

Below are just a few of the stunning commitments made by delegates and leaders who attended.  It should be noted that both Hawaii and California just passed legislation that will require both states to be carbon neutral by 2045. This is a massive step in meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goals that the Trump Administration will not honor.  And speaking of honoring the Paris Agreement, sign our action alert here.   

Commitments Made at the Global Climate Action Summit

  • 12 regions – including Catalonia, Lombardy, Scotland, and Washington State, representing over 80 million people and over 5 percent of global GDP will have 100 per cent zero emission public fleets by 2030.
  • 26 cities with 140 million people are committed to buy only zero emission buses starting in 2025 and creating zero emission areas in their cities starting in 2030.
  • Over 70 big cities, home to some 425 million citizens, are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, including Accra, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mexico City.
  • 9,100 cities representing 800 million citizens are now committed to city-wide climate action plans.
  • 488 companies from 38 countries have adopted emission reduction pathways in line with the science of the Paris Agreement—up nearly 40 per cent from last year.
  • In addition, Starbucks announced that by 2025 the company will have 10,000 Greener Stores globally, encompassing existing stores and new stores and renovations.

In the coming years, Surfrider is confident local towns and cities will be the ones who will make the most strides in combating climate change.  In fact, there is no time to wait around for reluctant leaders, it’s up to us at the local level to save our climate for future and present generations.