California Governor Jerry Brown downplayed President Trump’s influence on the climate change debate in the U.S. at a Vatican symposium Saturday, saying that his impact is “very small.”
Governor Brown delivered the keynote address at a climate change symposium organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, where fellow U.S. Democrats—Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the state Senate, and congressman Scott Peters—were also invited to speak.
Regarding climate change, “the Trump factor is very small, very small indeed,” Brown told his enthusiastic audience, which burst into a spontaneous round of applause. “That’s nothing to cheer about, because if it was only Trump that was a problem, we’d have it solved. But that’s not our only problem.”
But that’s not the only problem,” he said, adding that the real problem “is us.”
“It’s our whole way of life. It’s our comfort. It’s the greed. It’s the indulgence. It’s the pattern. It is the inertia,” Brown explained.
The California governor sought to reassure his hearers that Mr. Trump is out of touch with rank and file Americans, who believe in global warming and would embrace the measures stipulated by the Paris climate accord, which seems to be losing supporters elsewhere.
“People even talk about the government as being somewhat distant, but I can tell you the people, in the majority, are very much in support of serious climate actions, in following the Paris accords, we are going to get there,” he said.
“In many respects, if you try to measure what has been President Trump’s positive contribution, I would have to say his attempted withdrawal from Paris actually has put the matter much more in the forefront of the American people,” he said. “It is now more salient because of the contrast between what he is saying what the laws of America provide, what other states are doing.”
Shortly before his trip abroad, Governor Brown granted an interviewto BBC radio, in which he threatened to sue the Trump administration over climate change, while vowing to “stabilize the ship of state.”
“The president is working to delegitimize the very notion of climate change,” Brown told Jim Naughtie of the BBC in a program that aired Oct. 24, while the position of California is to go “against the policies of President Trump.”
“I hope the rest of the world does their part in providing a forceful opposition,” he said.
“Trump has declared war on a majority of the American people under the guise of supporting his minority base and it’s very dangerous,” Brown said. “It’s very disruptive for America, and I’m going to do everything I can to stabilize the ship of state.”
The governor went on to say that the president uses the issue of global warming to “work” his constituency. “I think he sees this as a galvanizing rhetoric for his base,” he said.
In his address at the Vatican Saturday, Mr. Brown advocated mobilizing religious leaders to move the hearts of believers to engage with climate advocacy.
“Until the religious sensibility is engaged — until religious leaders from every part of the globe and from every denomination are engaged — we’re not going to be able to move aside the huge rock of indifference, complacency and inertia,” he said.
The governor also recommended getting beyond a data-based debate to connect with people on an emotional level.
“The connection of health to climate change is central, because climate change is an abstraction,” he said. “Very few people can grasp or really be moved by it. But the pollution effects, people get that.”
“Going forward, we’re going to have to find the pathway to awaken the world, to get done what needs to be done,” he said. “We’re not going to get there with just science and technology. There’s no technical fix adequate to the challenge we face.”
Saturday marked the second time the Vatican has offered a platform to the pro-abortion governor from which to preach his views on global warming.
At a similar Vatican event in 2015, Brown attacked climate-change skeptics, calling them well-financed “troglodytes” who are determined to “bamboozle” their fellow citizens.
Climate change is “the biggest threat of our time” after nuclear annihilation, Brown announced.
“If we don’t annihilate ourselves with nuclear bombs then it’s climate change,” he said.