The Global Climate Action Summit was a profound experience. New commitments were made there to support the Paris Agreement, and to address younger generations’ concerns about social justice. The summit was an international event in the San Francisco Bay Area, held from September 12 to 14, that accelerated climate action and highlighted California’s leadership in this area. More than 4,000 national delegates, state and local government leaders, and members of our civil society participated, many lauding Governor Brown’s climate actions, specifically his signature on Senate Bill 100, which commits this state to 100 percent clean energy by 2045.
Jobs in environmental work and educating young people about environmental issues and sustainability were central at the Climate Action Career Fair, an event at the summit. Organizers noted that a low-carbon economy demands a workforce educated about sustainability for careers in the fields of energy, conservation, and technology. Exhibitors and participants included the Career Fair hosts — the City College of San Francisco, LinkedIn, and Student Energy — and others such as the National Parks Service, Luminalt, Maven, Bon Appetit, the Oakland Zoo, Scoop, Rev, and Grid Alternatives. Peggy Brannigan, the global sustainability director at LinkedIn, said, “I want young people to see that not only positions like mine address these issues, but many jobs focus on sustainability.”
At the Career Fair, a Microsoft “AI for Earth” presentation, by its Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Jappa, was a big hit among students and exhibitors. Through grants, Microsoft corporation is putting AI for Earth in the hands of groups and researchers who can use this tool to model, manage, and continuously monitor earth systems. Two panels with Bay Area leaders followed which shared successful strategies for youth engagement and sustainability education. LinkedIn’s Orlando White was such a dynamic presenter that he inspired me to complete the Sustainability Skills Learning Path available on the company’s website.
The summit leaders expected California’s low-carbon economy to generate more than 65 million new jobs in 2030. The growth of high-tech enterprises is expected to support rapid innovation and rapid scaling of tools for sustainability. The trend toward technological breakthroughs and ongoing monitoring of our ecosystems was accented by several speakers. Event panelist and Under2 Coalition Project Coordinator for the State Governor’s office Taryn Akiyama said, “Regardless of what you choose to study, think about how you can impact climate change.”
What does the summit and Career Fair mean for Santa Barbara and the Central Coast? To avoid lagging behind other states, we are charged with preparing young people for careers in sustainability. Addressing climate change requires skills and training in systems that affect the social and economic levers. In Santa Barbara, businesses and corporations — especially food producers, financial groups, health systems, and high-tech or IT companies — can work with our colleges and the university to develop a workforce that will excel in leading positive social and ecological change. Without continued local investment in sustainability education, our strong economy could come to a standstill.
The summit concluded with an urge for new global commitments ahead of 2020, the urgent deadline established to reduce emissions to deter the worst of the expected climate impacts. These efforts will continue at the United Nations’ COP24 (the 24th Conference of the Parties) meeting in December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. To learn more about the summit, the new low-carbon economy, and how to get involved, go to globalclimateactionsummit.org/step-up. Also, LinkedIn has made available six relevant courses, including the Sustainability Skills Learning Path, with free access until the end of October. Go here for more.