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Governors' Global Climate Summit Backs Treaty With Teeth

LOS ANGELES, California, October 2, 2009 (ENS) – At the Governors’ Global Climate Summit today, 30 governors, premiers, mayors and senior officials from around the world and the United Nations declared that workable solutions to global warming exist and they want a strong climate deal to emerge from negotiations in Copenhagen this December.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who convened this second annual summit of subnational leaders, said, “Addressing the problems caused by climate change is the greatest environmental challenge of our time and at this summit we heard leaders and experts from around the globe discuss the innovative steps and strategies being championed in the fight against global warming.”

“We have deepened our partnerships and renewed our commitment to work collaboratively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner planet and stronger economy for the next generation. In signing this declaration we are sending a powerful message to the national leaders negotiating the next global climate agreement that we are ready for action,” said Schwarzenegger. “The time to act is now.”

The participants agreed 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.

Summit participants included Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard of Copenhagen, Denmark, where the UN climate conference will be held from December 7-18. There, world leaders are expected to agree on a treaty to limit greenhouse gases that will take over when the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2102.

The Governors’ Global Climate Summit drew 14 U.S. governors of both parties, the premiers of seven Canadian provinces, five Brazilian governors, the governors of states and regions in France, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Korea, Senegal, and Ukraine as well as the mayors of London, England, and Toronto, Ontario.

Wearing a green tie, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger shares a smile with participants in the Governors’ Global Climate Summit. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)

Their declaration signed at the close of three days of discussions states, “Climate change is an immediate and long-term threat. Right now, climate change is affecting our food and water quality and supply, human health and well-being and our valuable natural resources. The impacts of climate change are being felt in our cities, provinces, states, regions and nations. The most vulnerable of our people are often the most adversely impacted.”

“The breadth and severity of impacts from climate change will continue for decades, even if our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions were to be fully implemented tomorrow,” the declaration states. “The longer we wait to respond, the more difficult and costly it will be.”

“The magnitude and urgency of the challenges in stabilizing and reducing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change will require an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration among all levels of government around the world,” the subnational leaders declared. “We recognize the need to both reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to adapt to current and future impacts of climate change.”

“We also recognize that our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change can strengthen global, national and subnational economies,” states the declaration. “These efforts enhance energy security, increase energy efficiency and create new industries and good jobs that stimulate diverse, decentralized and sustainable economic activity.”

Earlier today at the summit, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a Statement of Intent with the United Nations Development Program, stating that California will work with African nations to share successful policies on energy efficiency, low carbon fuels and other clean technology in the fight against climate change.

African leaders at the summit announced a new continent-wide effort, called “A New Green Deal for Africa.” African nations are some of the least responsible for climate change, but they are some of the most vulnerable to its devastating impacts and least able to adapt.

The Statement of Intent will support this effort under the current framework of the territorial approach to climate change. This effort is important because Africa has the opportunity to implement low carbon development strategies from the beginning – to grow green from the start.

Governor Schwarzenegger also signed an agreement with Governor Luo Zhijun of China’s Jiangsu Province to form a partnership that will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen government support for renewable energy and technological cooperation, increase energy security, promote economic activity and advance environmental sustainability.

This state-to-province partnership is China’s first subnational agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, the Governors Climate and Forestry Task Force, which was initiated at last year’s Governors’ Global Climate Summit, signed a letter addressed to President Barack Obama, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Brazilian President Lula da Silva calling for international leadership to reduce forestry-related greenhouse gas emissions.

In the letter, the governors emphasized the critical importance of including forests and reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation in international climate policy. The task force includes representatives from United States, Brazil and Indonesia, representing more than 50 percent of the world’s tropical forests.

“This summit confirmed that there are solutions to the climate challenge and regions are definitely a part of those solutions,” said Olav Kjorven, United Nations assistant secretary-general and director of policy at United Nations Development Program.

“I’m delighted to see how regions are exploring the ways they can address climate change,” Kjorven said. “This is the can-do spirit we need to seal the deal in Copenhagen. At UNDP, we will step up our work with regions and national governments on planning, financing and implementing the foundations of a low carbon and poverty-free future.”

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