Jonathan Parfrey kicks things off
Proud to be a Californian was an overriding emotion that day. It’s had a lingering effect too. The gathering was also buttressed by recent news on the U.S./China Climate Deal. A break-through.
This conference – Decarbonizing California: 2020 – 2050 was cutting edge and potent. The people assembled knew they had to be there. I was pleased to be among them… and I was humbled: These are really the Californians who have worked hard to affect change, to support AB 32, and to make California the global leader in commitments to emissions reduction.
Jonathan Parfrey of Climate Resolve had convened the ultimate force, about 400 of the right people, to tackle the State’s most ambitious goal…perhaps since train tracks blasted through the Sierras. The conference, held at University of Southern California, was about Californians taking action – going “double and quadruple down” — and preparing to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.
The choir we were. Clearly. So why meet and plan for a 30-year period that doesn’t begin for six years? Parfrey was firm in delivery: “There is a need for a counter-veiling force opposed to those trying to harm AB 32.” We’d hear this again and again all day: There are still deniers out there focused on dismantling the Global Warming Solutions Act. Occurred to me, perhaps AB 32 is the Obamacare of environmental concerns. Andy Lipkis said later in the day, “We seem to be experiencing a resurgence in denial.”
Jonathan Parfrey is a born leader, with a unique – perhaps understated style – that is warm while both realistic and optimistic. He’s also proud to be a Southern Californian. “LA was inevitable given this much natural beauty and its blessed weather. It had to come into existence,” he explained. And it got messed up with rampant pollution. Now we have to make it shine in new ways… without carbon. Parfrey is confident that LA can rise to the challenge.
Climate Resolve is LA’s climate change organization. Climate Resolve is at the nexus of science and policy; Jonathan Parfrey is a great interpreter: “Weather is like your mood, the mood you’re in… up, down, stormy, sunny, hot, dry, wet.. Climate is your personality… the way you are all the time.” He cites the work of Dr. Alex Hall at UCLA. Hall downscaled studies to see the projected climate impacts at LA neighborhood levels. By 2050, there will be three times as many extreme heat days as we have now.
Climate Resolve is focusing on ways to affect change. Its C-CHANGE LA campaign is about increasing the quality of life through things like cooler playgrounds and neighborhoods, sidewalk cafes and such, while decreasing emissions. “Germany is already at 30% renewables, with more than 300,000 jobs.” Jonathan is resolved: “We can do all of this at once and have a strong economy.”