The drought, linked to climate change, has led to massive wildfires that have burned almost 2.5 million acres this year in California alone. (Bureau of Land Management)

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By Suzanne Potter

November 5, 2021   

OAKLAND, Calif. — A contingent of climate leaders from California is pushing for substantive change at the climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, this week.

They are pressing for a focus on equity, where wealthier countries contribute technology, know-how and financing to spread sustainable practices across the globe.

Andy Katz, director of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, is one of nine members of the group Elected Officials to Protect America attending the conference.

“The United States in Glasgow can fund the Green Climate Fund,” Katz explained. “Where the United States has not made up for past inaction by the Trump administration, it needs to be able to help developing countries skip the dirty phase of development.”

Advocates are calling for action at home as well. More than 400 local leaders across the U.S. recently signed a letter asking President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency. And pressure is building on Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act, which contains $555 billion to fight climate change. The bill is due for a vote in the U.S. House very soon.

Katz argued California already is at “code red,” suffering from the effects of climate change.

“California has been facing the second-driest year on record,” Katz observed. “We’re facing the fourth year in a row of disastrous wildfires. We need to do something before things get much worse.”

According to the National Climatic Data Center, the U.S. suffered 22 climate-related disasters in 2020, each causing more than $1 billion in damages.

The president has set a goal for the U.S. to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030.

References:  COP26 conference United Nations 2021
Letter Elected Officials to Protect America 09/15/2021
Build Back Better framework White House 10/28/2021
Climate data NOAA 2021
Fire Data Cal Fire 2021