For the record, California – and the United States – need more global gatherings where we compare knowledge and experience on solving difficult problems.

But the highly touted Global Climate Action Summit, convened by Gov. Jerry Brown, may be the wrong event at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Climate change is literally an issue for everyone, but the event is not open to everyone. It is another elite event, by invitation only, in the world’s wealthiest metropolitan region, the Bay Area. That is a profoundly problematic message to send, since political challenges to climate change typically argue that it’s an elite concern that ignores broader and more immediate challenges, in poverty and housing. The setting, in California, will reinforce the critics. Why is the governor of California, and much of the world’s elite, focusing on climate in the face of the nation’s highest rates of child poverty and a massive housing crisis?

That’s a question that could resonate politically in California, and look for Republicans who are trying to hold onto seats in Congress and the legislature to grab onto it. In this They’ll be talking about housing and the DMV’s problems, and they’ll have a point. And giving Republicans an issue right now is a profound mistake. Democrats need to win every race they possibly can this fall to win back the House and put a check on Trump and his administration’s climate policy. This may be a nice conference in San Francisco, but it’s not nearly as important as that.

The summit’s defenders will say that it’s an inspiration and that it will establish California’s climate leadership. But that leadership, while challenged in some ways by China and other places, isn’t really in doubt. What is in doubt is whether climate policies can be combined effectively with efforts to improve education and limit inequality? And California’s example is a problematic one on that front,

In retrospect, it would have been wiser to have this conference after the November election, when Brown could have had his climate valedictory without the political risk. It also would have been good to put the event in Southern California, a less glossy and prosperous place.