California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) two-day climate gathering ended Wednesday with the adoption of a pledge by 26 governors and regional leaders from six countries to work together to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The two-page statement commits the signers to achieving “quantifiable greenhouse gas emission reductions collectively.” In a clear nod to attendees from the developing world, the document notes that there are “differentiated responsibilities and capabilities” for rich and poor countries, and it calls for adaptation assistance for nations most significantly affected by the impacts of climate change — many of which are in the developing world.
The agreement comes after two days of panels and meetings attended by 800 politicians and environmental officials representing 19 countries. Thirteen U.S. governors committed to the agreement, along with regional leaders from Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, and Mexico.
While the agreement is largely symbolic, sponsors say it is intended to set the stage for United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Poland next month, and in Copenhagen next year. The much more important goal of the summit, organizers said, was to demonstrate that regional leaders are ready to discuss cooperative efforts. Organizer and climate policy guru Terry Tamminen said yesterday that attendees may meet again in six months to gauge progress.
Schwarzenegger on Wednesday praised the progress made at the summit, saying it is evidence that leaders from different countries with varying interests can come to agreement on climate policy.
“It just shows you that if we sit down and understand their challenges, their struggles, where their economy is, I think we can make decisions to find that sweet spot in Copenhagen where we can come to a decision to make that next step,” Schwarzenegger said. “But we have to listen.”
Richard Kinley, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also spoke on Wednesday, praising the summit’s work as key for moving climate treaty negotiations forward.
“The world needs more of the same if it is to meet the climate change challenges — more in your own states and provinces, more in terms of cooperation and mutual support among your governments and more in terms of encouragement to national governments,” said Kinley.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) joined Schwarzenegger to sign the climate pledge adopted by attendees. Govs. Ted Ritter (D) of Colorado, Ted Kulongoski (D) of Oregon, Jennifer Granholm (D) of Michigan, Christine Gregoire (D) of Washington, Rod Blagojevich (D) of Illinois, Charlie Crist (R) of Florida, Deval Patrick (D) of Massachusetts, David Paterson (D) of New York, and Jon Hunstman (R) of Utah also agreed to sign, though they did not attend the summit in Los Angeles.
“By joining forces with our partners around the world, we will make the tough decisions to restore our planet’s health,” Schwarzenegger said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and we can do it.”