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Eco-champions gather at Global Action Summit

September 18, 2018

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Eco-champions gather at Global Action Summit

World leaders, business moguls, protestors and even a Hollywood star all shared center stage during the Global Action Summit in downtown San Francisco last week.

On Thursday afternoon, actor Harrison Ford took the stage at the Esplanade Ballroom in the Moscone Center to emphasize the need for environmental stewardship and renewable energy. He also addressed the concept of empowerment of those with and without political power. 

“Stop giving power to people who don’t believe in science, or worse than that, pretend they don’t believe in science for their own self-interest,” said Ford, who serves as vice chair of Conservation International, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect natural resources. “They know who they are. We know who they are. We are all rich or poor, powerful or powerless. We will all suffer the effects of climate change and ecosystem destruction.”

Outside the center, protestors were making just as much noise as the speakers inside.

They gathered to protest Gov. Jerry Brown’s position on drilling and use of fossil fuels. Activists chanted “Keep it in the ground!” and attempted to block media and delegates from entering.

Chants of “The Earth is not for sale!” penetrated the ballroom where business tycoon and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was speaking about climate action on municipal and state levels.

“Only in America could you have environmentalists protesting an environmental conference,” Bloomberg said.

Among the attendees were SF State students, including Dana Huffstutler, the campus assistant director of the environmental resource center.

“I like that the climate action summit is happening,” Huffstutler said. “I definitely think that to bring more awareness to decarbonization and to get rid of fossil fuels is important.”

Brown called for the summit to showcase recent achievements toward fighting climate change in communities and businesses around the world.

The event served as a response to President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement aimed to diminish greenhouse gas emissions around the world and curb dependency on fossil fuels. Trump believes that the agreement is a harmful move toward the American economy.

During a press conference held by the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of U.S. politicians pushing efforts to combat climate change, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said there were concerns that Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement could lead to an abandonment of environmental efforts globally.  

“That has not happened,” Inslee said. “Not one single mayor, not one single county executive, not one single governor in the world has followed Donald Trump and his sinking ship over the cliff of climate denial.”

Alongside Inslee were Brown, Gov. David Ige of Hawaii, Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Richard Kauffman, known as the first energy czar of the state of New York.

Several high profile business leaders, made pledges to invest into a more eco-friendly future by making changes within their own businesses, including Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Bernard J. Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente.

Business owners wanted to demystify the idea that businesses are inherently against positive environmental change in favor of profit gain.

“We are a company that — in the fabric of our mission, our culture and our values — is the belief that the pursuit of profit is not in conflict with the pursuit of doing good,” Johnson said. 

He said Starbucks is pro-sustainability and that the company is working to make their coffee a fully sustainable agricultural product. He also announced that Starbucks is launching a greener store commitment that will ensure that stores will operate more sustainably. 

Kirk is a print and online journalism student from Novato, CA. He is also studying for a minor in Political Science.