Whether it’s an UN, ICPD, ICLEI, Habitat or any other eco-shindig put together by the liberal elite, there are always plenty of “side events” for attendees to get together and yap about their lofty ideas over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Jerry Brown’s “Global Climate Action Conference” offered more of the same.

All around town, there was a smorgasbord of meetings covering a range of topics sure to make a liberal smile. Some of these included “Meeting the Paris Goals: Strategies for Carbon Neutrality,” “The Role of Religion in Climate Change,” and “Eliminating the Impact of Racism on Environmental Work,” among dozens of others.

Our CFACT team took occasion to go to where some of these meetings (dabbled about San Francisco) were taking place, and popped into one yesterday…uninvited. To our surprise, we were given a seat at the table with officials from Mexico, Australia, Denmark, Ukraine and took opportunity to chime in!

The title of this particular affiliate event was “Carbon Zero Cities” (as in “carbon free”) and was hosted by the Mayor of Sacramento, Darrell Steinberg (pictured with me below). The crux of the discussion centered on strategies bureaucrats can employ on the municipal level to push businesses and consumers into behaving the way the eco-bureaucrats want them to, namely lowering their carbon footprint … down to nothing.

For his part, the mayor began the meeting enthusiastically asserting he was going to get 75,000 Sacramento residents to drive electric cars in 10 years. Another, Shane Rattenbury, the “Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability” in Canberra, Australia, was giddy about his city’s near-success in going “all-renewable” by 2020. And yet a third, Council Member Sam Weaver from Boulder, Colorado’s Housing Department, boasted about how his stringent “Green Building” codes were cleverly designed and going to force landlords to get with the program.

Of course, after witnessing this … it was difficult not to speak up.

“How are you going to get people to drive electric vehicles if they don’t want to?” I asked Mayor Steinberg. Visibly flustered, he offered no real explanation, but quickly deferred to his assistant – who also stumbled and didn’t answer the question.

I also asked the Minister from Canberra how in the world is his city going all renewable, since I knew such energy can’t power a modern city by itself. He answered by confessing that Canberra wasn’t really going all renewable, per se, but simply putting all the electricity Canberra generates from the sun and wind into a national pool and then drawing from it. When I asked him if that “national pool” also consists of energy generated from coal, he reluctantly (and downheartedly) responded “yes.”

None of this put a damper on things, because before I got a chance to ask the Boulder building guy a question, it was time for a photo op of the Mayor and a Canberra official signing a “Carbon Zero Declaration” – followed of course by wine and hors d’oeuvres.

The sad thing is that the decisions discussed and often put into motion at these little “side events” have real consequences. Businesses get saddled with burdensome mandates, consumers pay higher prices, and economies flounder. Even worse, such measures often take their toll on those who can afford it least – namely the poor.

One doubts, however, this weighs heavy on Brown’s invited climate conference attendees, especially when the wine glasses get clinking.


  • Craig Rucker

    Craig Rucker is a co-founder of CFACT and currently serves as its president.