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SAN FRANCISCO — How can policymakers, entrepreneurs and technologists fight climate change in the face of political headwinds? Gov. Jerry Brown of California is likely to address that question on Wednesday when he headlines ClimateTECH, a new conference from The New York Times, in a conversation with the Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman.
On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, the billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, and the executive director of Project Drawdown, Paul Hawken, will continue the conversation, leading a lineup of policymakers and technology leaders to discuss solutions to global warming.
When and where: Governor Brown will speak at 7:40 p.m. Pacific time (10:40 p.m. Eastern time) at the City View at Metreon in San Francisco.
How to watch: The conversation will be streamed live on The Times’s home page, YouTube page and Facebook page. The following day’s panels will be posted online at a later date.
What to know: The Trump administration just attended two weeks of intense negotiations in Bonn, Germany, on the Paris agreement — the global accord on climate change that President Trump has vowed to abandon. Governor Brown was there too, along with a coalition of other governors, mayors and business leaders with an unequivocal message: that they are still in the Paris agreement even if the federal government backs out.
Now comes the tough part: figuring out what that means in practical terms.
Many states and cities have pledged to reduce emissions in an effort to meet the Paris agreement goals. The America’s Pledge movement is notable. It’s also incomplete. What will it take to get the biggest fossil-fuel dependent states on board?
Beyond that, the world also needs an “energy miracle,” as the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has asserted. That’s where some of the world’s top innovators and entrepreneurs come in.
Astro Teller, the “Captain of Moonshots” at X, the research and development arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will talk with Mr. Friedman about the challenges and opportunities of seeking big technology solutions to big problems. Katie Benner, a Times technology reporter, will talk to Geisha J. Williams, the president and chief executive of PG&E Corp., about the utility’s ambitious goal of generating half its power from renewable energy by 2030.
I’ll be sitting down with Michael Shellenberger, founder of Environmental Progress, and Simon Irish, chief executive of Terrestrial Energy, to talk about the role of nuclear energy. And Keith Bradsher, The Times’s Shanghai bureau chief, will take the conversation global in a talk with Li Junfeng, a central architect of China’s renewable energy policy.
Governor Brown is likely to remind the crowd that addressing climate change won’t be easy.
“Decarbonizing the economy is like climbing Mount Everest,” he told me in Bonn. “It’s like going from pagan Rome to Christian Europe, and we don’t have 700 years to do it. It’s a transformation.”