Jerry Brown: Climate Change Will Drive European-Style Mass Migration to California

Migrants in Europe
AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File

California Gov. Jerry Brown predicted Monday that the effects of global climate change would drive mass migration to his state, similarly to how the current Syrian civil war is causing thousands of refugee migrants to flee to Europe.

Brown was speaking to reporters in Mather about the state’s current wildfire emergencies when he made his prediction, according to the Sacramento Bee.

“What we’ve got in Europe now with mass migrations, that will happen in California, as… Central America and Mexico, as they warm, people are going to get on the move,” Brown said in his videotaped remarks. “We have a chance to minimize this significantly, but it takes real commitment, and it’s not business as usual,” he added.

Brown’s comments came after he suffered two embarrassing legislative setbacks last week.

A key provision in what the governor hoped would be a landmark climate change law — namely, that the state be mandated to reduce petroleum use by 50 percent by 2030 — was removed after Republicans and moderate Democrats alike questioned the mechanics of its proposed implementation. The bill would have given the unelected California Air Resources Board, appointed directly by the governor, complete control over the method used by the state to meet its petroleum reduction target.

The governor also lost on a key bill when he failed to secure a vote on SB 32 before the legislative session concluded last week. The bill would have dramatically increased greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Brown struck a defiant tone last week after the petroleum reduction measure failed.

“California is not going to miss a beat. Be very clear about that,” Brown said. “We don’t have a declaration in statute, but we have absolutely the same authority. We’re going forward. The only thing different is my zeal has been intensified to a maximum degree, and nothing, nothing is going to stop this state from pushing forward.”

Brown vowed Monday to continue pursuing petroleum reduction using his executive authority, according to the Bee.

“You ought to see it not in terms of me,” he told reporters in Mather. “I’m just, you know, part of the flotsam and jetsam of history. I’ll be gone soon enough. But climate change is not going. It’s going to be around even after your newspapers are long forgotten. So this is a matter of deep personal and general significance that everyone ought to be thinking about how they can best respond.”

Brown spoke as the Valley and Butte Fires continued to rage in northern California. One woman was killed and four firefighters were injured as the Valley blaze consumed more than 67,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes in Lake and Napa counties. The fire was just 15 percent contained as of Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, the Butte Fire had burned more than 71,000 acres by Tuesday morning and was at 37 percent containment. Mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect in many areas due to both fires.

Brown has repeatedly linked California’s devastating wildfires to global warming.


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