California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off the second Governors’ Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The ballroom was packed with more than 1,000 people, and cell phone cameras were readied in anticipation of the Governator. This was clearly not going to be a run-of-the-mill climate change conference.
Harrison Ford warmed up the crowd, challenging everyone to join Team Earth — getting off the bench and into the game in the fight against climate change.
But it was Arnold who really pumped everyone up. After thanking the many event organizers and calling out a few more stars in the audience, like actor Djimon Hounsou and boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, he got down to business.
His message was even more exciting than his star power:
- Climate change is the greatest global challenge facing every country, state, city and community around the world.
- We need strong and immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect the environment, create green jobs and build the low-carbon economy of the 21st century.
- National leaders need to stop debating who should go first in reducing emissions and pass climate legislation in the U.S., and reach a new international agreement in Copenhagen.
- The world’s states, cities and other “subnational” regions are the laboratories where climate solutions will be developed and delivered.
Best of all was the spotlight Arnold and other speakers placed on forests — forest protection, forest restoration, forest management. These are the solutions that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions now and ensure a more secure future for people. And they are the basis for cooperation among governors from the U.S., Brazil and Indonesia to make REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) a practical reality.
The Nature Conservancy is proud to be a partner with these leaders, helping implement demonstration projects on the ground and develop protocols for reporting climate benefits of forest conservation.
The governors, mayors and other leaders gathered at this Summit are the do-ers who will be responsible for delivering as much as 80 percent of the emissions reductions needed to stop climate change, and for safeguarding people and natural resources from the worst climate impacts. If the enthusiasm of the opening day is any indication, they seem up for the challenge.
Watch the opening plenary and follow the conference webcast.
(Image: California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at Wednesday’s climate summit. Source: http://gov.ca.gov/multimedia)