Second Global Governor's Summit: Subnational governments lead action on climate change

6 October 2009

LOS ANGELES - Speaking at the second Global Governor's Summit last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told delegates that, while nations continue to negotiate a global agreement on climate change, state and regional governments are taking action and making real progress in tackling climate change.

The Summit brought together subnational government leaders from across the world to focus on their role in addressing climate change. Several leaders from The Climate Group's States and Regions network - including Quebec, Wales, Manitoba, Victoria, and (of course) California - spoke about the leadership role subnational governments have played, in everything from green building standards to carbon taxes to forest protection and partnerships with developing countries.

States and regions as climate leaders

Pointing to California's pioneering clean car standards (which was adopted by other states and provinces, and, finally in a modified form by the federal government), Governor Schwarzenegger said that subnational governments are developing the policies that nations can use to implement a global deal.

The Governor pointed out that, in the same way, the US government does not need to wait for other nations to act on climate change. "We should lead the green movement and then other countries will follow," he said.

Key to delivering a global deal on climate change

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and IPCC Chairman Dr R K Pachauri joined the Governor to discuss the upcoming negotiations at Copenhagen this December in a "fireside chat" focused on Blair's work with The Climate Group on Breaking the Climate Deadlock.

Mr Blair said he believed there is clear support for global action - negotiations at Copenhagen must get down to the practical solutions. Based on his political experience, he said, "If there is a way, there is a will."

The Climate Group's States and Regions network, together with California, Quebec, Catalonia and others, have been lobbying to gain official UNFCCC recognition of the role of States and Regions in implementing a global deal.

This effort was affirmed in a video message from UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer who noted that subnational governments will deliver up to between 50-80% of emissions reduction targets. He said that the UN believed it is important that the final text in Copenhagen reference the role that subnational governments will play in its delivery, and encouraged them to get national delegations to support this effort.

"The message of the importance of sub-national governments in actually implementing a Global Deal, and in leading on practical actions to green the economy, was made loud and clear in California- a message that will be carried to Copenhagen" said The Climate Group's State and Regions Director Jane Gray at the summit.

"The Climate Group was pleased to assist in this important Summit as a lead-in to the important gathering of subnational, municipal and business leaders that will take place on December 15th at our Climate Leaders Summit in Copenhagen."

Governor Schwarzenegger closed the Summit by saying it wasn't only governments that carried the responsibility to act. The best way to ensure long term success in tackling climate change, he said, was to make it "hip": "We need to make it mainstream so that it is unusual if you're not involved."

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