After recently returning from an 8-month family odyssey to 13 countries, I find myself back in San Francisco with old friends at the North American Carbon World conference. Being at NACW is like mainlining climate juice, especially after having been out of the loop for close to a year. The narrative of the conversation follows a traditional but compelling arc, first raising the clarion call by emphasizing the urgency of global warming, and next inspiring action by discussing the myriad solutions in play. The approach is tried and true, and it works for me every time.
I was particularly moved by Veerabhadran Ramanathan’s opening keynote, in which he described the fight to halt global climate change as, “the mother of all challenges we face and it is a fight for life, our own lives.” As of 2018,
anthropogenic emissions have caused a 1°C rise in global temperature, and we are on pace to reach 1.5°C by 2030. This may seem innocuous, but it is far from it, especially since there is a 50% probability that we will see an increase of at least 4°C by 2100. Such an increase would create devastating outcomes ranging from prolonged extreme drought from the Mediterranean to the western U.S. to Australia, big increases in viral and infectious diseases, sweeping decreases in food production, and political instability as hundreds of millions, possibly billions of climate refugees flee unlivable regions.
Ramanathan pivoted to the positive, offering up "4 Levers to Climate Policy Success" (see graphic). He highlighted the many solutions at hand and emphasized that drastically cutting GHGs could limit global warming to less than 2°C and cost less than two-per-cent of global GDP. But we must act with urgency and focus.
The NACW conference is a discussion of many of the solutions to the climate crisis, ranging from expanding carbon markets, utility-scale renewable energy project development, zero emission vehicles and leadership at the state and local level.
I have the pleasure of moderating the “City and County Climate Leadership” panel this afternoon, April 6 from 3-4pm. We will hear from climate program managers from San Francisco, Austin and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. I always draw inspiration from these conversations about concrete actions that are producing measurable results in reducing emissions. We will also discuss city action from the careers perspective, understanding the state of play of green jobs in city government, local renewable energy projects, the waste sector, clean tech, corporate sustainability and more. I hope you can join us.