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Governors’ Global Climate Summit

Last week, 1200 representatives from more than 70 states, provinces, and countries attended the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, at the Hyat Regency Century Plaza Hotel. California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called this second conference which dealt with global warming and energy sources, and what state and local governments can do about climate change. (Yes, sometimes I have a hard time remembering that he is a Republican, too, :-) but remember, so was Lincoln! )

California passed a carbon emissions cap for the state in 2006. On September 15, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed an executive order that requires California to get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, which is well above the 15% for the U.S. required in climate bills currently being considered in Congress. More than half the states in the U.S. have similar renewable energy standards. Western and Northeastern states have begun to form regional carbon cap-and-trade programs.

There was a general recognition among the governors who met in Los Angeles that, although leaders of national governments will meet at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen to discuss the response of the world to global warming, the bulk of the actual work, including possible protection of cities from a rise in sea level, will be done at the level of state and local government.

Eleven governors from states and provinces in Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, and the U.S. issued a call for national governments to stop deforestation of tropical forests, which accounts for up to 1/5 of global carbon emissions. Clean transportation was another area of focus.

On October 2, 2009, 30 global leaders signed a declaration in advance of the next climate agreement, at the closing of the Governors’ Global Climate Summit 2, “committing to work together to pursue clean transportation and mobility, support national climate change legislation, include forests in climate policy development, acknowledge the need for adaptation efforts and recognize the role of subnational governments in the discussions on the next global climate agreement being negotiated in Copenhagen this December.”

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