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Are practical solutions to climate change within reach? Based on what I saw at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit, yes we can.

The Governors’ Global Climate Summit wrapped up last Friday with governors and other subnational leaders from around the world signing a declaration to work together toward effective climate solutions — including creation of climate policies, clean technologies, green jobs, forest conservation programs and adaptation activities.

They hope that their commitment, leadership, and initiative will motivate national leaders to succeed in reaching a new climate change agreement in Copenhagen. But can we be more than just hopeful? Here are some of the details of what came out of the summit — and why I think they demonstrate a solid basis for action on the international level:

Ahead of the closing ceremonies, forests featured prominently in two important events. Late Thursday night, governors from eleven states in Brazil, Indonesia and the United States signed a letter to their heads of state calling for a task force to develop effective policy on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) that could be included in the international climate treaty to be negotiated in Copenhagen. Together, Brazil and Indonesia represent about one-half of the world’s tropical forests.

On Friday, governors from Wisconsin, the Indonesian state of Aceh and the Brazilian states of Para, Mato Grosso, Amazonas and Acre spoke directly to the opportunities they see in making forest protection, restoration and management a win-win solution for stopping climate change and creating more sustainable economies for their people.

Leaders from the Brazilian rubber tappers’ union, private timber and investment companies, and conservation organizations also spoke about the opportunities for launching partnerships to build capacity and contribute the funding needed to protect forests, support communities and fight climate change.

At least 17 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from forest loss around the world — more than from all the Earth’s automobiles, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined. Halting and eventually reversing deforestation trends promises to be one of the most cost-effective and immediate solutions to stopping climate change.

The world’s attention now turns to Copenhagen where international leaders will meet in December to hammer out a new global climate agreement. The negotiators still have a lot of work to do before they can reach an agreement. The stakes are high: Failing to act on climate change risks catastrophic impacts on people, economies, and the natural world.

But the Governors’ Global Climate Summit in California last week demonstrated that practical solutions are in reach, and that subnational leaders are ready to lead the way with real action to reduce emissions and to help those communities most vulnerable to climate change.

(Image: A log yard fills a large field near the village of Long Gi, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Credit: Mark Godfrey/TNC.)

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Comments

  1. Biggest news you’ve never heard: Earth isn’t warming
    By Patrik Jonsson | 10.10.09
    How do you reconcile the early snow in Minneapolis, ski resorts already opening in Nevada, and that August chill in North Dakota with expert warnings about a warming climate?
    You don’t. Why? The Earth isn’t warming right now, is why. It may even be cooling down somewhat.
    Five major climate centers around the world agree that average global temperatures have not risen in the past 11 years, according to the BBC. In fact, in eight of those years, global average temperatures(sic) dipped a tad.
    http://features.csmonitor.com/discoveries/2009/10/10/biggest-news-youve-never-heard-earth-isnt-warming/

    It would useful if the five major centers involved
    Reported their observations to the “daily press”–
    Nine out of ten times (by rough estimate)
    We’re told global- warming-induced climate change is already in progress.

    And with dramatically different results, for example:
    Food, famine & climate change: India’s scorched earth guardian.co.uk
    No one had much idea why this had happened, and not many have heard the term “climate change”.

    India’s Floods Reveal Climate Change Specter
    TIME
    To experts who’ve tracked the effects of climate change, however, the flooding came as no surprise. In its fourth assessment report in 2007 .. (emphasis added)… CC) up to speed.

    P.S. Of course, the CSMonitor (no email address available) may simply be reporting
    Something reported elsewhere by folks (re: CC/GW) of like mind,
    Who perhaps heard it from still another source similarly inclined–
    All perhaps equally ignorant: “Blind leading the blind”.
    ___________

    *Perhaps, based on the plural,
    It’s not an overall average of observed local (daily) average (hi+lo/2) temperatures, after all,
    But possibly a prevailing tendency (toward increase/stability/decrease) in ” ‘regional ‘ ‘averages’”
    With due allowances for hemispheric differences in, for example, spring, summer, winter and fall.

    Quien sabe. But we shouldn’t have to wonder about things like this!

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