Provincial Climate Summitry: Day One

Governor Schwarzenegger kicked off his second Global Climate Summit Wednesday in Los Angeles–and “global” is certainly the emphasis.  The three-day conference features panelists from more than 70 states, provinces and countries who are discussing “subnational” strategies to cut carbon emissions.  (That’s the policy wonk term for regional, state and provincial governments).

Events like these are at risk of being feel-good political meet-and-greets, but I spoke with Louis Blumberg of The Nature Conservancy, who believes that the partnerships created at the last climate summit have borne fruit in the past year. Blumberg is part of a deforestation working group made up of five Brazilian states, two provinces in Indonesia and three states in the U.S. They’re working on carbon accounting techniques for forestry projects–or in carbon parlance, REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).

Expect more partnership announcements from the rest of the summit.  The first signed this week came from California and Mexico, who announced a partnership to protect Monarch Butterfly habitat in Mexico through reforestation.  California forests are also getting some attention.  The Governor also announced a deal with the largest private forest owner in California, Sierra Pacific Industries, to produce carbon credits from its forestry projects.

Still, for all the state-level dialogue, national climate news stole the show.  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson appeared just after the Governor to announce  a proposed rule to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large power plants and refineries. And in Washington, Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry released a national climate bill in the Senate (see Craig Miller’s post for more on that).

The Governor took it all in stride, reminding the audience that California piloted many of the policies the national government is now considering. “That’s how powerful states and regions are,” said Schwarzenegger. “We really are the laboratories for the national governments. That’s where the action is.”