United States

United States

Influential and interesting in 2018 -- Jerry Brown

Governor of California

Spokesman for green thinking in state-versus-federal policy clash

The leader of what is now reckoned to be the world’s fifth largest economy is fast becoming the elder statesman of climate change in the US.

Brown is due to leave in office because of term limits, but the 80-year-old Democrat was in typical fighting form during a press conference to open September’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, which he convened.

In an assessment of the US’s lack of leadership, he denounced Donald Trump’s climate policies as those of a "liar, a criminal, a fool".

And when he closed the conference, in another clear jab at the federal administration, he announced a new tack for California, the country’s most populous state.

"We’re launching our own damned satellites," to track climate emissions, he said.

Just days before, Brown had signed into law a requirement that California utilities source 100% of their electricity from renewables.

Brown was known as Governor Moonbeam for his interest in space research and satellites to provide emergency communications when he was first governor of the state (1975-83), but he also oversaw the jump-starting of the global utility-scale wind industry.

In the mid-1970s, on his watch, the state legislature ushered in hefty 55% tax credits for wind, solar, geothermal and some biomass energy generation.

And by the early 1980s, large wind projects in the Altamont Pass, east of San Francisco, had blossomed.

A former Jesuit seminarian, and an ex-boyfriend of singer Linda Rondstadt, Brown also shepherded in the country’s first energy-efficiency standards for appliances and green building codes.

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