Tuesday, November 18, 2008

President-Elect Obama Addresses Governors' Global Climate Summit

Nov 18: In Los Angeles , Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger welcomed more than 800 attendees from more than 50 states, provinces and countries to the Governors' Global Climate Summit. Following the Governor's opening remarks, a pre-recorded video message aired from President-Elect Barack Obama on global warming and supporting the states that have taken decisive action to address this urgent issue. The Governors' Summit brings together U.S. and international leaders to develop cooperative partnerships and promote collaborative actions needed to combat climate change. The forum also provides an opportunity for states and provinces to partner to reduce emissions, to grow their green economies and to influence the position their national governments take in the next global agreement on climate change.

The U.S. governors co-hosting the event and who were in attendance at the summit are Florida Governor Charlie Crist; Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich; Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius; and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. Governor Schwarzenegger said, "When California passed its global warming law two years ago, we were out there on an island, so we started forming partnerships everywhere we could. We teamed up with Great Britain, the Canadian provinces, the Western and Northeastern states and with states like those of my co hosts-Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Wisconsin and more. And right here, for the first time, we have officials from China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and across the world in the same summit, working toward the same goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and growing green economies in our own backyards."

In a video address to the Summit's attendees, President-elect Obama emphasized his enthusiasm for the Poznan, Poland Conference and promised that his administration would mark a "new chapter in American leadership on climate change." He said, "Few challenges facing America -- and the world -- are more urgent than combating climate change. Many of you are working to confront this challenge....but too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office.

"Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather in Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won’t be President at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one President at a time, I’ve asked Members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there."

He also said, "Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security." He said the U.S. will establish a federal cap and trade system with "strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emission to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050." He called for investments of "$15 billion each year" to assist private efforts to develop a clean energy future. He said, ". . . we'll tap nuclear power while making sure its safe, and we will develop clean coal technology." He said he looks forward to working with "all nations to meet this challenge in the coming year." He said when he takes office the United States will "engage vigorously" in the climate change negotiations and "help lead the world in a new era of global cooperation on climate change."

The Summit emphasizes a "sectoral" approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions with sector-specific breakout sessions focusing on specific actions in the following industries: forestry; cement, iron, steel and aluminum; energy; and transportation. Together, these sectors account for the vast majority of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to a release, the approach is considered a "promising mechanism to support the actions of developing nations with technical and financial assistance from developed nations."

With representatives from the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the Governors' Summit provides "an important forum to discuss solutions to meeting our mutual environmental goals while creating an economic advantage for states, provinces and nations that take early and aggressive action." Showcasing the economic success of California's environmental leadership, the Governors' Summit will feature more than 30 clean-tech companies displaying innovative green technologies including electric cars, solar-powered flashlights and non-toxic cleaning products during the two-day Climate Solutions Showcase.

On September 17, in advance of the Conference, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-14-08 (EO) to streamline California's renewable energy project approval process and increase the state's Renewable Energy Standard to 33 percent renewable power by 2020. The Governor said, "I am proposing we set the most aggressive target in the nation for renewable energy -- 33 percent by the year 2020 -- that's a third of our energy from sources like solar, wind and geothermal. But we won't meet that goal doing business as usual, where environmental regulations are holding up environmental progress in some cases. This executive order will clear the red tape for renewable projects and streamline the permitting and siting of new plants and transmission lines. With this investment in renewable energy projects, California has a bright energy future ahead that will help us fight climate change while driving our state's green economy."

Access a release from Governor Schwarzenegger (click here). Access a link to a high quality version of the Obama webcast released from the transition office (click here). Access the Conference website for complete details (click here). Access a live webcast and subsequent archival video and podcasts of all events in the International Ballroom (click here). Access a release on the Governor's executive order including the full text and related links (click here). [*Climate]