Protesters stop traffic, block entrance to climate summit

Hundreds of protesters took over an intersection of downtown San Francisco this morning to denounce what they say is Gov. Jerry Brown's inaction on climate change as he attends the Global Climate Action Summit in the city this week.

As part of the action, dozens of protesters linked arms, effectively blocking the entrance to the summit at the Moscone Center at Third and Howard streets.

The protesters are made up of a coalition of several environmental groups from all over the planet, as well as Bay Area-based organizations. They're calling on global leaders to speed up the transition from fossil fuels toward renewable energy.

According to Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, a way to reduce emissions globally is for Brown to phase out oil and gas drilling in California, which she says would result in other states and countries following suit.

"He's in there patting himself on the back, claiming climate action leadership, but climate leaders don't drill. California is still one of the country's top oil-producing states," Siegel said.

Siegel said since taking office, Brown has approved 21,000 new oil wells and that "most are in communities of color that are already burdened by pollution."

She said, "We're out here asking him to show true climate leadership by protecting Californians, not the oil industry ... When you're in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging."

The climate summit, which began Wednesday and goes through Friday, involves leaders from across the world discussing ways to reduce global emissions by 2020, goals outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Kitzia Esteva, an organizer with the Bay Area-based organization Just Cause Causa Justa, said her group is seeking to end environmental racism, which impacts everything from housing to immigration.

Esteva said examples of that in the Bay Area include Richmond, home to the Chevron oil refinery, and San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood, where soil testing was falsified to cover up radiation from the former U.S. Navy shipyard there.

"To us it's all interconnected and we're defending our right to be part of the real solution to this crisis and to stop with the lies about how capitalist solutions can even fix anything," she said.

"We know the people inside the summit are actually talking about how they're going to profit from our suffering, instead of thinking about how they're going to implement the kind of actions that we need to take on," Esteva said.

"You can't have real solutions that don't consider the real communities that suffer the consequences of their false solutions. We're out here to say that 'cap and trade' is not a real solution," said Doria 
Robinson, spokeswoman for the Richmond Our Power Coalition.

Cap and trade is an approach used by many governments, locally and globally, which provides economic incentives for companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Cap and trade hurts communities in places like Richmond, who will get the brunt of the excessive emissions that that scheme allows," Robinson said.

"I feel the like the whole cap and trade thing is a scam, I'm not sure if it will ultimately reduce emissions. I feel like we really should be focusing on emission-reducing solutions led by communities so that the 
consequences of what we choose to move forward on have been thought through and vetted," she said.

"When you look at the fires, the droughts, the hurricanes that are coming at us heavily, they're not coincidences," Robinson said. "We need aggressive solutions to address the climate crisis we're in and that's not it."

During this morning's action, officers arrested two people outside the Moscone Center, police said.

Officers arrested Jiaspi Gomez, 19, of San Diego, on suspicion of obstruction of an officer, refusing to comply with a lawful order and being a pedestrian in a roadway. Officers also arrested San Francisco resident Christopher Moulton, 29, on suspicion of trespassing.

Both were issued citations and then released, police said. In addition to the arrests, ten others were escorted from the Moscone Center.