On the evening of November 29, 2017, over a dozen climate justice activists protested Governor Jerry Brown’s speaking appearance at the New York Times ClimateTECH summit at the Metreon in San Francisco.
They called out the hypocrisy of Brown claiming to be a “climate leader” while he promotes fracking and other extreme oil extraction methods in the state.
One of the organizers of the San Francisco protest was twenty-nine-year-old Daniel Gustavo Ilario of Castro Valley, who was in Bonn as a part of an indigenous delegation and was one of the protestors who interrupted his speech. Daniel, who is of Salvadoran, Nicaraguan and Brasilian heritage, is a member of Idle No More San Francisco Bay, an indigenous-women-led climate justice organization.
“Governor Brown is no climate hero,” Ilario said before the protest. “He takes millions from the oil industry and then allows fossil fuel lobbyists to write legislation. We do not have time for half measures and false solutions like California’s cap-and- trade program.”
“We stand in solidarity today because it is our responsibility to provide a livable future for generations to come. Instead of allowing the oil and gas industry to create policy that kicks the can down the road, we need brave leaders and legislation that implement a just transition from a destructive, extractive economy to a regenerative one that respects the sacred system of life,” said Ilario.
Other groups represented at the protest include Rootskeeper, Californians Against Fracking, Oil Money Out, Food and Water Watch.
This is the second time that Brown has faced protests for what activists call his “climate hypocrisy” over the past month. While in Bonn, Germany for the international climate talks, COP 23, indigenous and climate justice advocates disrupted Brown’s talk, yelling “Keep It In the Ground” and other chants.
They were referring to the governor’s strong support of fracking, both offshore and on land in California, and cap-and-trade policies that could prove catastrophic to the Huni Kui People of Acre, Brazil and other indigenous communities around the globe.
Ilario was leading chants in the first group, carrying a banner when they marched into the room. He was on a delegation with “It Takes Roots,” a national multiracial alliance of alliances, led by women, gender oppressed people of color and Indigenous Peoples on the frontlines of racial, housing and climate justice across the US and Canada.
The chant went:
“Governor Brown. Still in for what?
Northern California refineries expand pollution.
Carbon trading, a false solution.
Keep it in the ground.
We are here to shut it down."
Obviously surprised as Ilario and others disrupted his speech, Brown stated, "I wish we could have no pollution, but we have to have our automobiles.”
"In the ground, I agree with you,” Brown said. “In the ground. Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.”
“This is very California. Thanks for bringing the diversity of dissent here,” the visibly disturbed Brown continued.
Reflecting on his experience in Bonn, Ilario said he went to Bonn for the second week of the conference. A total of 30 people in four different groups, carrying banners and chanting, marched around the room, to the surprise of Brown and others.
“The four groups focused on four separate topics: (1) California refineries; (2) carbon trading and protecting the rainforest and South America; 3) fracking and (4) natural gas and oil carbon trading,” said Ilario.
When Brown told the protesters, “Let’s put you in the ground, Ilario said, “I was initially completely shocked – his response was unbelievable. Afterwards his inability to apologize for his comment speaks to the integrity of Brown and other politicians that they’re are willing to sacrifice our health and safety for corporate profits. Everybody else I was with was also extremely surprised and upset that he said what he did. A lot of people told me they were upset that Brown, in interviews with reporters, said his statement it was a joke – but what we’re going through is NOT a joke.”
Ilario’s delegation was also part of a major action against Trump administration representatives when youth in the Sustain Us Delegation stood up and sang as they challenged Trump’s pro-fossil fuel policies. Other notable events during the conference included the release of a carbon pricing guide by a coalition of climate justice groups.
This is first time that Ilario has been to either Germany or COP23. There were several takeaways he received from going to the conference:
“First, the nation states are really longing to discuss how to profit off the situation of carbon pricing. And their real concern is not the future. Their real concern is allowing the extractive industries to pollute and profit.
Second, we’re building a global resistance and especially indigenous people are coming together to protect Mother Earth.
Third, It is time for everyone to stand up against the fossil fuel industry. The future is at stake and we don’t have time for half measures and false solutions like carbon trading and carbon pricing. It’s an accounting trick where polluters are given permission to expand pollution at the source while pretending their protecting a forest that will offset their carbon.
Fourth, I think it is important grass roots front line communities are involved in the UN meetings even though nation states don’t work in our best interests. We need to be there and exert our power.”
Ilario said that he become involved in climate justice issues when he joined the Bay Area resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline after hearing Pennie Opal Plant of Idle No More San Francisco Bay speak at a No Dakota Access Pipeline meeting last year. In addition to attending the local Idle No More refinery walks and other events, he also supported the Winnemem Wintu’s Run4Salmon, attending its opening ceremony at Sogorea Te, a sacred site in Vallejo, this September.
“I think the campaign to restore salmon is an essential movement because salmon used to live here and deserve a home just as much as us,” he noted.
What does Ilario think of Governor Brown? “I don’t have anything against him as a person, but in fact he is no climate hero. I’m thankful that activists in Bonn sacrificed their time and energy to secure a livable future for generations to come,” he stated.
“’Saving forests’ sounds great, but at the end of the day we get more pollution at home while indigenous people lose their land in the Amazon and abroad with carbon trading and carbon pricing,” he concluded.
While Jerry Brown receives largely fawning coverage in the mainstream and “alternative” media touting his supposedly “green” credentials, he is an enthusiastic promoter of many environmentally destructive policies, including fracking by Big Oil and Big Gas, oil industry-backed carbon trading, pollution of groundwater supplies with oil wastewater and the construction of the salmon-killing Delta Tunnels.
On February 6 of this year, twelve public interest groups, led by Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch, unveiled a comprehensive "report card" on Jerry Brown Administration’s environmental record showing he falls short in six out of seven key areas, including oil drilling, fossil fuel generated electricity, toxic emissions, the California Environmental Quality Act, coastal protection and water.
The report calls for a moratorium on the building of natural gas powered electricity plants, given what they described as “the glut of electric capacity,” and calls for an outside audit of the state’s energy needs. The groups showed how California can improve its environmental protections to meet standards set in other states. The document also urged Brown to abandon his Delta Tunnels project and to make water conservation a priority.
Read the report “How Green Is Jerry Brown?” at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/isbrowngreen