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Climate Summit Aims to 'Take Ambition to the Next Level'

Some of the world's most prominent climate leaders will descend this week in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Sept. 12 to 14 gathering will feature numerous seminars, notable speakers such as former vice president Al Gore and former secretary of state John Kerry, and will culminate Friday with a call urging international governments to commit greater efforts in averting dangerous global warming under the goals of the Paris climate agreement.


Collective action on tackling climate change is more important than ever, especially in light of President Trump's intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement and his continued efforts to push polluting, planet-warming fossil fuels.

"We're running out of time," as Gov. Brown says on the event website. "There's been some backsliding since Paris, and our summit ... aims to increase the commitments that have already been made in Paris, to make them even greater, and thereby build the momentum going into the conference of the parties at Poland," aka the COP24 climate talks, this December.

In an op-ed this week for the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown wrote: "We all know that Donald Trump has declared war on every effort to stop global warming and that his congressional acolytes have abetted his insane crusade. Tragically, even the leaders of nations who joined in the 2015 Paris climate accord are also failing to do what it takes to reverse global warming. Greenhouse gas levels are still rising, and they are producing an unsustainable human future."

Fittingly, the theme of GCAS is to take "Take Ambition to the Next Level."

"The summit in San Francisco is bringing together grassroots activists, mayors, governors, heads of industry and international leaders for the express purpose of mobilizing climate action at the local level and to demand that their national governments get serious and raise their ambitions," Brown added.

Once the meeting gets going, we should expect significant climate action announcements from a major food and beverage company, a large utility and a major healthcare company, according to a press release received by EcoWatch.

Several companies will also make commitments to roll out more zero-emissions vehicles and charging infrastructure, the release said.

Ahead of the gathering, Kaiser Permanente—the nation's largest nonprofit integrated health care system and GCAS sponsor—announced a major renewable power purchase agreement on Monday that will allow the organization to become carbon neutral in 2020.

"Climate change is here. We are seeing the effects of it in devastating wildfires, hurricanes and droughts already impacting people's lives," said chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson in a statement received by EcoWatch. "At Kaiser Permanente we understand that one of the most effective ways to protect the health of the more than 68 million people in the communities we serve is by ensuring healthy environmental conditions. By investing in renewable energy and becoming carbon neutral, Kaiser Permanente is helping to prevent climate-related illness for people worldwide."

The gathering will celebrate existing climate commitments and achievements, and will ask the world to step up their efforts in five key challenge areas: Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land and Ocean Stewardship; Transformative Climate Investments.

The World Wildlife Fund, a leader of the Land and Ocean Stewardship challenge, issued the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge that calls on businesses, governments and citizens to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption and land use.

"To curb climate change, we must address the second-greatest source of emissions: our use of land," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, head of WWF's global climate and energy practice in an online press release. "By taking concrete action, businesses and local leaders also can encourage national governments to more aggressively reduce carbon emissions using every resource available, including trees, grasses and soil."

Alongside the summit itself, there will be more than 325 affiliate events in San Francisco and elsewhere. Many of these panels, workshops, tours, exhibits and other special events are open for the public or can be attended virtually.

Click here for the full GCAS program. Some events will also be live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

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