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Global climate summit begins in absence of White House officials

This photo taken in February 2018 shows former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. (UPI/Kyodo)

SAN FRANCISCO (Kyodo) -- Leaders of local governments and businesses as well as environment activities gathered at an international conference that began Wednesday to discuss efforts to achieve goals set by the Paris Agreement.

While participants including California Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic mayors aired concerns at the Global Climate Action Summit about U.S. President Donald Trump's stance on climate change, none of his administration's officials attended the conference.

In an affiliate event, former Vice President Al Gore praised C40, a network of the world's major cities for addressing climate change, saying its members are "on the front lines of the climate fight" while naming Tokyo as one of the cities committed to constructing net zero carbon buildings.

He also pointed to natural disasters hitting parts of the United States, Japan and the South China Sea as evidence that climate change "is affecting our lives," referring to damage brought to western Japan by a powerful typhoon earlier in the month.

The Japanese Climate Initiative, comprised of more than 200 Japanese nongovernment organizations, local governments and corporations, plans to sign this week a partnership with the America's Pledge Initiative.

The America's Pledge Initiative was launched in 2017 to coordinate actions of U.S. states, cities and businesses to cut greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement, which Trump has decided to withdraw from.

The Japanese government, while pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions, has pivoted toward fossil fuels in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Other attendees speaking at the gathering include Xie Zhenhua, special representative on climate affairs in China, the mayors of Paris, Los Angeles, Houston, New York and San Francisco, and American actor Harrison Ford.

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