Summit on climate change held in Oakland

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Summit on climate change held in Oakland
With new climate change rules taking effect on Jan. 1, some of California's political leaders say the biggest battle right now is information versus misinformation.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- California's political leaders came to Oakland on Monday for a summit on climate change. And with new rules taking effect Jan. 1, some say the biggest battle right now is information versus misinformation.

Governor Jerry Brown began his address to hundreds of climate change experts by talking about the weather.

"It's raining today," he said. "And for three years, we've been in a real drought."

In fact, flooding and drought are both among the realities that scientists have predicted in coming decades. Water that now falls as snow could one day fall mainly as rain. Meaning instead of running off into our reservoirs, it'll pour down into our streets.

"We're just at the beginning," Brown said. "And there' still lots of skeptics and there are lots of deniers who want to just say no it's not true it's not happening."

In the fight to save the planet, state leaders' next battle appears to be all about educating the public.

"And we gotta make sure that the environmental movement as we know it today knows how to speak Spanish," said State Senator Kevin de Leon.

The son of two Mexican immigrants, UC Berkeley student Pablo Gomez has used English and Spanish to teach high schoolers about climate change.

"Teaching students that they really are the leaders of this country, and we gotta get them educated so they're ready to lead," he said.

But for many people, the biggest concern over the climate change debate comes at the gas pump. Next month, legal provisions are taking effect that make gasoline subject to the same rules as smokestack pollution; rules that could make it more expensive to fill up.

"That's fine," said one Bay Area resident. "I'll pay more for gas if it's for a legitimate reason."

But drivers we talked to were confused about how much more. Consumer advocates think they know why.

"The oil companies are running a very deceptive campaign that says gas prices are gonna go up by 75 cents if we implement climate change for us," said Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court.

California Assemblywoman Tony Atkins addressed concerns during a speech at the summit, saying, "Maybe there will be a little bit of an increase in gas prices at some point. Certainly not now, due to AB32. A few pennies maybe."

With oil at its lowest price in five years, the pain of an increase might be easier to stomach. Experts don't know how much gas will go up. But we'll see in a few weeks.