JUDY WOODRUFF: We zero in now on the big story of this day, the president’s decision to withdraw from a global accord aimed at slowing the impact of climate change.
We explore the consequences of all this, and how it may play out in coming years in the United States and around the world.
We begin with California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat. His state is battling efforts by the Trump administration to roll back some emissions regulations. And he’s flying to China tomorrow to discuss what more can be done on climate change.
I spoke with him just a short time ago.
Governor Jerry Brown, thank you for joining us.
Your office put out a statement a short time ago saying, this is an insane course of action. Do you mean that?
GOV. JERRY BROWN, D-Calif.: I certainly do mean that. If anything, it’s understated.
Climate change is an existential threat to all of humanity, to the natural systems on which all life depends. Not tomorrow, but starting very quickly, we’re seeing changes. California has lost 100 million trees from the drought. Sea level is rising. the Antarctica is seeing ice melting at an ever rapid rate, some say in an irreversible way.
This is a profoundly serious problem. The Paris agreement was an agreement of nations saying what they could do voluntarily. Here’s the commitment. President Obama made something I thought was doable, was reasonable.
In fact, California is doing that very thing now, and our economy has grown in terms of GDP 40 percent faster than the nation as a whole. We have created over two million jobs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes.
GOV. JERRY BROWN: So, climate action and jobs go together. So, that’s why I say this move by Trump makes no sense, and it’s going to hurt America, and it’s going to cost jobs, not the reverse.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you know, he makes a different argument. He says this — he said, I’m in favor of doing something to help the environment, but he said this accord is going to cost millions of jobs and cost the American people trillions in lost economic output.
GOV. JERRY BROWN: That’s just — that’s a lie. That’s completely unwarranted.
Yes, jobs are always declining all the time, the creative destruction of capitalism. But jobs are being created. California has lost jobs, but, net, we have added 2.4 million jobs in the last eight years, since the recession.
That is a remarkable outcome, and it’s consistent, in fact, I would say driven by the clean tech investments and the climate action strategies that we have embarked upon. So, President Trump is completely wrong. He’s doing this for his own base, highly ideological. He’s wrong on the science. He’s wrong on the facts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, he also — another argument he makes, Governor, he says, this puts restrictions on the United States, while the United States is reducing its emissions, while it lets other countries like China, that continue to pollute more and more, get away with doing that for years to come with no penalties.
GOV. JERRY BROWN: He really distorts the record. He has a record of that, and he’s doing it again.
China is exceeding its commitment, and it’s turning a big machine around, to the point where it’s stopping the growth of emissions in a few years. And it’s the leader in wind and solar power. And, yes, they’re building some coal pants. They have to go faster. They’re not perfect.
But this is an agreement of the willing that have said in Paris, here’s what we will do. And it’s reasonable, what China is doing, reasonable, what America is doing. In fact, I would say both have to do a lot more.
So, Trump is taking this in the exact wrong direction, which will cost us more money. When the New York, the subway is underwater, or New Orleans or President Trump’s hotel down there in Florida are devastated by rising sea levels, that will cost hundreds of billions. Aggregate, over decades, we’re talking trillions. So, the economics is all to the opposite of what President Trump is saying.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor, among other things, as you know, the president is talking to his base, people who voted for him. There’s an indication they’re going to like what he did today.
Has your side of this argument missed an opportunity to explain to the American people how protecting the environment can also be good for the economy?
GOV. JERRY BROWN: Well, I don’t think that message is clear enough. And certainly people can be more articulate.
California, obviously, it’s clear. Orange County for the first time in decades voted against a Republican, Mr. Trump. And I think part of that is our environmental policies working, as well as our job creation running at full speed.
So, yes, this is a message that has to be made more persuasively, more simply, and made more extensively across the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned California, and I think you said in your statement today California can continue to cut its own deals with other countries, continue to move forward with technology.
How does that work? I mean, the president said he’s willing to renegotiate the Paris accord. Is that realistic at the same time you’re talking about California and other states going forward on their own?
GOV. JERRY BROWN: Already, European nations have said Paris is not negotiable. The president of France said that and others.
What’s he going to renegotiate? This is a modest commitment on the part of President Obama. And we have to do more, not less.
I’m going to China tomorrow. I will meet with high officials. We will agree on standardizing various clean technologies that will make it possible to invest and produce even more. We’re going to work, California and China. We’re working with New York and Washington. Canada and Mexico have joined with over 170 states, provinces and nations committed to this Paris agreement.
So, the world is not waiting for Donald Trump. He has given a body blow to the cause of environmental sustainability, but we will take it and we will respond. We’re on the field of battle, and we’re going to overcome. That, I can promise you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Governor Jerry Brown of California, thank you very much.
GOV. JERRY BROWN: Thank you.