1.5 Degrees (Celsius) of Separation

Haven't I seen you somewhere before?

Haven't I seen you somewhere before?

A few last over-the-shoulder observations from Rob Schmitz, who has at last escaped Copenhagen, after two weeks of reporting for Climate Watch and The California Report.

There goes Nancy Pelosi in a blazing red dress. Over there? Hugo Chavez surrounded by bodyguards and tracked by television cameras. Watch out! Al Gore’s security detail is coming through!

It was getting toward the end of Week Two, and the Bella Center, all but closed now to those pesky, protesting NGOs, was overrun by more than 120 world leaders and heads of state, and you couldn’t get to the restroom without bumping into one of them (or the elbows of their security guards).

With all this power crammed into once place, the folks who seem like bigwigs at home suddenly found themselves standing in line for hours with the rest of us. CEOs, heads of big-name state agencies and the like had to walk more than a mile to the conference Wednesday after protests forced police to shut down the Bella Center metro stop and erect twenty-foot barriers around it. Then, the UN barred access to most accredited NGO participants, enraging many who dropped thousands of dollars to come here and now couldn’t attend the finale of these negotiations.

At one point, I was looking for a table where I might sit down and eat my lunch. This is one of the joys of covering a conference like this: it’s crowded and everyone’s eating at the same time, so the nations of the world share tables (at least they can cooperate at lunchtime). I plopped my tray down at a table of three people dressed in elaborate white, blue, and red costumes, adorned with silver jewelry. As it turned out, they were three presidents of the parliamentary system of the Sami people, the indigenous nomadic reindeer herders of northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, an area known as Lapland. The three were there to support language in the draft resolution text that would include indigenous peoples when deciding where to build renewable energy projects. They’ve had problems in the past when wind farms and dams were built on their lands. “The reindeer don’t like that,” said one of the leaders, “they’ll avoid anything that’s new, and it disturbs our herding,” she told me. The conversation soon turned to their costumes. “We usually don’t wear these outfits,” said one leader at the table, “but we wear them here, because it helps raise awareness of our people. Television journalists are very interested in us.” But, he said, the costumes were a double-edged sword of sorts. When they wear them at official functions, they have a hard time being taken seriously by officials from other governments, one lamented.

I had a similar notable encounter the day before, when I was reporting a story on what California got out of the climate summit. After wrapping up my interviews, I sat down and had breakfast at the Scandic Webers Hotel. Sitting next to me was a man dressed in a red Wisconsin Badgers t-shirt and grubby Adidas sweatpants. Me being from Minnesota, it was my Midwestern duty to inform him of this.

Me: “Wisconsin, eh?

Him: “Yup.”

Me: “I’m from Minnesota.”

Him: “Oh yeah? Well I hope we see you in the playoffs.”

He was referring to the NFL and the arch-rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and my team, the Minnesota Vikings. We proceeded to rib each other about football and had a fun, trash-talking conversation about quarterback Brett Favre. At the end of the conversation, I asked him what he did for a living in Wisconsin.

“Oh, I’m the governor.”

It’s been that kind of week. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, dressed in sweatpants on this morning, was wearing suits when he was involved in meetings throughout the week, to urge the US to make a binding commitment to greenhouse gas emissions reductions and for congress to pass a cap-and-trade scheme. But he, of course, was playing second (or third) fiddle to the heaps of world leaders that piled into this conference.

Maybe he should have dressed like a reindeer herder.

After All That, Disappointment in “Hopenhagen”

Delegates to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen have officially “taken note” of the deal squeezed out on Friday by major carbon-emitting nations, an action that seems to fall short of a ringing endorsement.

President Obama’s own summary of the climate deal reached at–almost literally–the eleventh hour in Copenhagen, was laden with the language of muted disappointment. While describing the arrangement hammered out by the US, China, India and Brazil as “meaningful and unprecedented” and stressing that for the first time, “All major economies have come together,” he also used terms like “first step” and “not enough.”

Some bullet points from the President’s news conference, right before be bolted for the airport:

– Accord contains the three key elements: transparency, mitigation and finance

– Mitigation goal to stop warming at 2 degrees (C) “…by action consistent with science.”

– Nations have “much farther to go.”

– Accord is “not legally binding” and sets no deadline to achieve one that is*

– A legally binding pact was “not achievable at this conference.”

– Getting to a legally binding agreement will be “very hard and is going to take some time.”

– “This is hard within countries. It’s going to be even harder between countries.”

And here’s one to set a cheery tone for the coming year:

– “Kyoto was legally binding but everybody fell short, anyway.”

*Earlier drafts of the agreement reportedly set the end of 2010 as a deadline for signing something binding.

The US President and other heads of state left the Bella conference center before the agreement was actually signed. He said negotiators will remain in Copenhagen and attach many of the details to the deal in an “appendix,” before signing. President Obama said he was confident that as he departed, delegates were “moving in the direction of a significant accord.”

Here’s an early reaction from a major environmental group, in this case Friends of the Earth:

– “Sham Deal Requires Nothing, Accomplishes Nothing.”

Prepare for more of that.

The outcome of the fifteenth “Conference of Parties” in Copenhagen would seem to lend prescience to the speech given there by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday, the theme of which was: Don’t wait for national and international bodies to solve this problem. They haven’t–and may not.


What a little pond scum won't do

Wielding the power of pond scum. Photos: Rob Schmitz

Harrison Dillon’s had a heck of a year. His company, South San Francisco-based Solazyme, recently won two federal contracts from the Departments of Defense and Energy, and secured almost a million dollars’ worth of state money (while the rest of us were getting IOUs for our tax returns). And just this week, after spending a week in Copenhagen spreading the word about Solazyme, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger held up Dillon’s venture as an example of the California green dream. Not bad for a guy who, six years ago, started his company in his garage (yeah, that still happens).

Dillon works with algae. And not the type that forms on stagnant ponds. He grows it in a contained environment and has figured out how to use it to make crude oil. That oil is then used to make diesel fuel, which almost any automobile can run on. Since algae siphons carbon dioxide out of the air, there is virtually a net-zero greenhouse gas contribution to the environment. Dillon hopes to bring down the cost of fuel made from algae to less than $80 a barrel within the next two years.

This is just one of the innovative California companies that has attended the Copenhagen climate summit the past two weeks. There are many others. The Golden State leads the country in patents in green technology, and it’s likely it leads the country in the sheer number of  representatives at this conference. California emits about the same volume of greenhouse gases as France, and, as is often touted by state leaders, if we were a country, we’d have the seventh largest economy in the world (Schwarzenegger said this in his speech; I’ve heard others say eighth. Suffice it to say our economy’s pretty big).

This week, I spent a snowy morning camped out in the coffee-scented breakfast room of the Scandic Webers Hotel, down the street from Copenhagen’s beautiful central train station. The cozy little inn is decorated with “Danish modern” furniture throughout, upon which the state’s most prominent business and political leaders sat, eating overcooked bacon and watery eggs.

The entire hotel was taken over by the California delegation: John Fielding, President of Southern California Edison, was having breakfast with Nancy Ryan, Policy Director of the California Public Utilities Commission. State Senator Fran Pavley joined them, with State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner chiming in from another table. California EPA Secretary Linda Adams remained in her room, sick with the flu.

“This is my 12th COP (UN Conference of Parties),” Skinner told me. The Bay area assembly member had, in her “previous life,” been a national leader in the fight against global warming. She’d seen this process over and over but she’d never been to a COP that attracted this many people. This, she told me, was a perfect place for California to show the rest of the world what we’ve been up to: “We have to share. CA has an amazing story. Californians per capita pretty much have a flat level of electricity use since the 1970’s, whereas the rest of the US has grown by 50% per capita.” Skinner was on her way to an electric vehicle forum that day.

UCSB students learning outside the classroom

UCSB students learning outside the classroom

Other guests at “Hotel California” included a group of 24 students from UC Santa Barbara. They were led by Bob Wilkinson, a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science. The students were thrilled to be a part of it all, and were talking about the sticking points in the negotiations as if they were the delegates, complete with UN lingo and acronyms. They also took a page from the playbook of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, the day before, offered to host a “subnational” conference in California. The students said they, too, were interested in hosting a local climate change conference on their campus, to share the expertise they garnered during their stay here. They’d already set a date for this April.

Aboard the Roller Coaster in Copenhagen

88363083Louis Blumberg directs the California climate program for The Nature Conservancy. He’s also been keeping us posted as an official observer to the UN climate conference.

Copenhagen, December 16

Amidst the protests, the deliberations, the 24/7 schedule and battling what has been dubbed the “COP 15 flu,” the collective energy and sense of import in Copenhagen is still motivating us all to keep at it.

The atmosphere at the Bella Center has been a roller coaster this week. One thing I’ve realized is that it’s tricky to keep up with the constant changes that are happening so rapidly. At one point, we heard that negotiators had included in the draft text a global goal to reduce emissions from deforestation by 50 percent by 2020 and to achieve zero emissions by 2030. This would have been unprecedented. Unfortunately, we later learned that this text was only a placeholder but still could come through in a final agreement.

Adopting a global goal to stop deforestation would certainly be one important measure of success for this conference. It is alarming that the destruction of the world’s forests is the second highest source of greenhouse gas emissions — more than the emissions from all planes, trains and automobiles combined — yet a role for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (known as REDD) was not included in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. This left countries with few economic incentives for preserving their forests, while they stood to make a fortune selling the timber, clearing forests for development or converting them to agriculture.

Enter the forest carbon market. Meeting an ambitious global goal on deforestation will take a lot of resources. A global market that gives value to forest carbon can generate the funding required each year to reduce deforestation at the scale needed to address climate change, while providing cash-poor, forest-rich countries the financial incentives they need to protect their forests rather than destroy them. While it is not the only tool to reduce emissions, it is a crucial one.

California has been a leader in this arena by both establishing a credible, prescriptive method for certifying forest carbon projects and including a role for forest offsets [PDF download from Stanford] in the state’s cap-and-trade program. This is a model that COP 15 negotiators can point to while framing the global solution to reducing deforestation. Let’s hope they come to an agreement soon.


Schwarzenegger’s Speech in Copenhagen

Here is a transcript of Governor Schwarzenegger’s speech to the UN climate conference in Copenhagen. It’s provided by his media relations staff, as insertion of the “laugh track” and applause notations may suggest.

Thank you so much for this great introduction, Governor Campbell, or Premier Campbell. It’s exactly the way I wrote it. That’s right. (Laughter) Just joking. He has been a terrific partner and a great, great friend and of course we will see each other up there at the Olympics, which is going to be probably the best-organized Olympics, knowing you. So thank you very much also for your invitation.

I also want to thank Governor Jose Serra for the wonderful speech and the very profound things that he said. And you have been also an extraordinary leader, so thank you very much. Let’s give him also again another big hand for the great work. (Applause)

And then Ivo de Bóer from the U.N., we want to thank him for organizing this and being a great leader and believing in the subnational governments.

And also we have from California here some people like Linda Adams, who is in charge of the EPA. Where’s Linda Adams? Stand up, Linda. Let’s give her a big hand. (Applause) Then Senator Fran Pavley, who is a great, great leader. Where is she? Can you get up? OK, right there. (Applause) Extraordinary leader in California. Without her we wouldn’t have been able to go as far as we did with the reduction of greenhouse gases and so on. And then we have Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner. Where is she? She is also here. Let’s give her also a big hand.

I love giving this speech here just simply because I’m not the only one that has an accent. It’s a good place to come. (Laughter)

But anyway, it is wonderful to be back here again. So before I say anything and do anything, let me just thank the U.N. and the people who have worked very hard on this to make this whole meeting happen. Let’s give them a big hand for their great, great organization. (Applause)

I especially want to thank Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his early attention to the threat of global climate change and I want to congratulate him on his great, great leadership on the issue that has brought us all together.

I am delighted and honored to be with you in Copenhagen. This is not the first time I’ve been here; I’ve been here many, many times before, if it is for my movie promotions or for coming here for bodybuilding and weightlifting seminars, or just on vacation and so on. But I never thought then that one day I will get here as the governor of the great state and talk about climate change, so this is really terrific. So it’s great.

And this city, of course, distinguishes itself by being so clean you can actually swim in its harbor, even though I wouldn’t recommend it right now because it’s a little cold, of course. But how happy we would be if all the world’s harbors would be as clean.

As everyone knows, also in the harbor there is the “Little Mermaid,” the statue based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. When I was a boy in Austria, the Andersen fairy tale that I always liked best was “The Ugly Duckling.” And looking back, I think the reason that I liked it was because it was a tale of transformation and that spoke to me inside. I have always believed in the tremendous power of personal transformation.

The desire, the hope, the desperate need for planetary transformation is what brought us together here. And the question is: is this also a fairy tale? Is it a dream? Is it a false hope? And if it is not, how do we make it real? Is that something that we ought to discuss? And this is something that I do want to discuss here while I’m here with you. Look around this carbon-conscious city and you should feel hope. Copenhagen is often voted as one of the most livable cities in the world.

So the question really is, how do we make the world itself livable and sustainable? Certainly, it would be terrific if the world’s governments reached an agreement and put hard caps on greenhouse gases while generously helping poor nations, who are least responsible for and least able to respond to climate change. Attempting to reach such an agreement is good and is actually very, very important.

But why do we put so many hopes and eggs into the big international agreement basket when, according to the UN itself, up to 80 percent of greenhouse gas mitigation will be done at the subnational level?

In recent weeks, the prospects for this gathering here have gone up and down, up and own, like a roller-coaster ride. And everyone was in fear, of like what will the U.S. do? What will China do, or not do? Is it going to be 20 percent reductions or a 17 percent reductions? Is the base 1990 or 2005? Should it be 350 parts per million or 450 parts per million?

But what if I said that international agreements, as critical as they are, will never do enough? What if we took that as a given? Wouldn’t that expand the possibilities and approaches for progress we would consider?

I mean, my late mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the remarkable woman who started Special Olympics, an organization that dedicates itself to people with intellectual disabilities, gave me an insight on this. She was the sister of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Teddy Kennedy and she knew everyone in American power and politics.

But she once told me that while the federal government was important for policies related to Special Olympics — such as health care, equal rights, job creation, dental care and so on — but she never would have relied on the federal government to build Special Olympics. She said you need all kinds of different elements and entities like local government, state government, volunteers, corporate sponsors, coaches, celebrities and, of course, the families.

She said that no one from government is going to be there at the sports events and hug those kids when they come through the finish line, or organize the competition so there is a finish line in the first place. No one from government trains those kids so they don’t hurt themselves or so they know how to perform those sports. She said, no, that is up to many of us, many different entities. And she built a movement, a worldwide movement that has spread to 180-plus countries.

So history tells us that movements began with the people, not with government and then, when they became powerful enough, government responds. In the U.S. the labor movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam anti-war movement — they did not begin in the corridors of power in Washington.

So there’s a lesson in this for our cause. While national governments have been fighting over emission targets, subnational governments have been adopting their own targets and laws and policies. While national governments have been trying for years to define what Kyoto means, businesses are pursuing cutting-edge technologies to solve energy and environmental problems. While national governments debate how carbon caps will affect their economies compared to others, many of their citizens are seeking greener lifestyles on their own.

Government clearly has a major role, there are no two ways about that. But I also believe in the power of the iconoclast and the entrepreneur and the individualist. I believe in the power of the scientists, the capitalists and the activists. I believe in the power of the cities and the states and the provinces to be laboratories for new ideas, which the national governments then can go and study and adopt.

I mean, too often, I think, we fail to see the potential and the progress that is being made on all those different levels. By putting all of our eggs in one basket, we fail to see the eggs in the other baskets.

Let me give you a few quick examples.

Dr. Rajendra Pachuari, who came to our environmental summit in California just recently, he has his own target. He is replacing kerosene and paraffin lanterns with solar light for 400 million rural people in India — 400 million people in India. Think about that. So if the nations of the world do not sign a carbon agreement, does that mean the doctor’s transformative work in India doesn’t count?

In the U.S., in the small town of Roscoe, Texas, a German company has completed the world’s largest wind farm. If we don’t reach a major carbon agreement, does that mean the Texas wind farm doesn’t really count?

With the assistance of Greenpeace, four of the world’s largest meat producers agreed not to buy cattle from newly deforested areas of the Amazon. That doesn’t count?

The head of an energy company in China recently said of renewable and efficient energy, “We think that this is a new business for us, not a burden.” And China now is becoming the leader in developing and manufacturing renewable energy equipment. That doesn’t count?

Yes, sure, they all count. And they reveal that something is happening, something that is happening below the national level.

California, for instance, is working with cities and with states and provinces and regions and nations, including Mexican states, Canadian and Chinese provinces and European nations. We’re even working with the U.N. to assist developing countries, especially in Africa. We are trying to foment change and collaboration and movement. We’re doing everything we can to change the balance of power on the environment.

And of course when I talk about California, I realize that while we may lead America and many other countries environmentally, Denmark here is already one-third more energy efficient. Isn’t that fantastic? And Europe is a great leader in this whole thing.

But the reason for discussing my adopted home state of California is because, first of all, I’m the governor of the great state of California and I have a little right to brag about our state, right? And also, California is the seventh largest economy in the world and also America’s trendsetter, so what we do has consequences. Now, maybe when you look at the globe it is just a little dot, or maybe you cannot even find California. But the power of influence we have is equivalent to a continent. And we in California do not believe and we do not behave, as if progress has to wait for Washington or Beijing or Kyoto.

In California, we are proceeding on renewable energy requirements and a cap and trade system for greenhouse gases. We are moving forward. As a matter of fact, we are making great progress. If hydro is included, we will get 45 percent of our energy from renewables in ten years from now and we are already at 27 percent.

We are proceeding on the world’s first low carbon fuel standards and limiting greenhouse gas emissions from cars which, by the way, the Obama Administration has now just adopted. We are proceeding in a major way on green tech, no matter what happens in Washington or in Copenhagen. Billions of dollars, nearly 60 percent of all venture capital in America, flows to California and this is creating the critical mass of money and intellect to develop new green technologies.

Leaders from around the world are coming to California to see what we’re doing. I took the French Foreign Trade Minister to a business in San Francisco called Solazyme, which was just recently named the most innovative bio-energy company. They have come up with a way to convert algae into a fuel that is 90 percent cleaner than petroleum-based fuels. The U.S. Navy has just signed an agreement with them and is going to use that fuel to power some of its ships.

So from what I see in the research labs and venture capital start-ups around the globe, I believe that the world’s businesses will move to solar and to wind and alternatives much faster than the people expect.

Kenya, for instance. Kenya already gets nearly three-quarters of its power from hydroelectric and from geothermal — three-quarters. And next month it will begin work on a $760 million wind farm that by 2012 will increase Kenya’s power supply by about 30 percent.

Now, the uplifting thing is that the developing nations will be able to leapfrog into the green economy and skip the fossil-fueled industrial revolution. Isn’t that wonderful?

I believe that we have economics on our side. Since the supply of wind and sun and algae is unlimited, their prices will not jump. That cannot be said of oil, the supply of which is limited and declining. That cannot be said of coal, whose costs of extraction and labor and transportation are bound to rise.

So I believe technological and economic forces will overtake the political and the regulatory efforts of national governments. We are beginning one of history’s great transitions – the transition to a new economic foundation for the 21st century and beyond.

Shouldn’t we organize to encourage this transition even as we continue to work toward international compacts? Of course we should. Now, if this conference does not get a strong agreement, some will say that Copenhagen has failed, that we talk grandly but we are fooling ourselves, much like the fairy tale, “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”

And others will say that any agreement that is being reached isn’t enough because the world is going to melt and we’re going to die anyway.

Others will say, “Look at those crazy people trying to wreck the global economy.”

No, ladies and gentlemen, this conference is automatically and already a success.

Kyoto brought the world’s focus to what must be done. It brought the focus to that whole subject. We didn’t know then what we know now. We didn’t have as much experience with the science that we would research or the hurdles we would face. But Kyoto made us think differently about the world.

And perhaps the real success of Copenhagen is to give us the opportunity to think differently again. Perhaps the success comes in realizing that something different needs to be done and in fact is already being done. It’s being done at the sub-national level.

And I would ask the U.N. to convene a climate summit like Copenhagen but for cities, for states, for provinces and for regions. And I will be more than happy to host such a summit in California or anywhere else the U.N. wants to hold it but I recommend strongly in California. (Applause) People like coming to California. They love our state.

So ladies and gentlemen, the world’s governments alone cannot make progress, the kind of progress that is needed on global climate change. They alone cannot do it. They need everyone coming together, everyone working together. They need the cities, they need the states, they need the provinces and the regions. They need the corporations, the activists, the scientists and the universities. They need the individuals whose vision and determination create movements. They need everybody out there.

So ladies and gentlemen, let us regain our momentum, let us regain our purpose, let us regain our hope by liberating the transformative power beneath the national level.
That can be the great contribution of Copenhagen — that could be the great contribution of Copenhagen.

So thank you for inviting me. Thank you for your kind attention and warm hospitality. And thank you for the great passion and for the hard work that you all do. And it is very important that we continue with this work.

So thank you very much and I’ll be back. Thank you.

The Schwarzenegger Solution: R20

Drawing on the G(X) model of international cooperation (as in the G-20 group of nations), California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing that subnational governments band together to advance climate policy, in their own “R20,” or “Club of 20 Regions.” According to the Governor’s office, officials from four other nations have already signed on to the idea of  “a new regional coalition to fast-track the results of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and push their respective national governments into more rapid actions and stronger commitments to fight climate change.”

According to a concept document released on Monday, the group aspires to “demonstrate the feasibility” of the arrangement by 2012, which coincides with some key international conferences and is also when California’s climate legislation is scheduled to take full effect.

Founding members of the group include provincial officials from Canada, Nigeria, France and Algeria, including Premier Jean Charest of Quebec, who said the arrangement would, among other things, “allow for the transfer of expertise and green technologies to developing countries.”

Quebec is one of four Canadian provinces participating in the embryonic regional carbon trading cooperative known as the Western Climate Initiative.  The Governor’s announcement provided no indication that the other Canadian provinces or the half-dozen other US states in the WCI had signed on to R20, as of Monday (the “20” is apparently “symbolic” thus far).

Following his speech to the climate conference on Tuesday, Governor Schwarzenegger is scheduled to meet with the governors of some WCI partners in Copenhagen.

Schwarzenegger to Rally Subnationals

Meanwhile Rob Schmitz, our reporter in Copenhagen, sets the scene with a look at how the state’s anchor climate legislation is playing here at home, three years after its passage. That report airs Monday morning on The California Report.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to arrive in Copenhagen on Monday, ready to rally the world’s “subnationals” in the fight against global warming. This is the first time that UN climate talks have created a formal role for states, provinces, cities and the like, and California’s governor will be loaded for bear.

In the weeks leading up to Copenhagen, the Governor turned up the heat on climate rhetoric, with a series of related media events. On Treasure Island, a low-lying man-made rectangle on San Francisco Bay that he said “could be under water” by the end of the century, Schwarzenegger unveiled the state’s climate adaptation strategy with a video tour of California’s climate vulnerabilities, powered by graphics from Google Earth (if you just want the gist, there’s a shorter version available).

The Governor also seized the occasion to preview his trip to Copenhagen, saying we “can’t wait” for national and multi-national efforts to save us from the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change; that “subnational” actors like California–perhaps led by California–should stay focused on their own efforts to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the changes already on the way. The Governor’s speech to COP 15 delegates on Tuesday will be a chance to do some crowing about California’s climate leadership, on an international stage, before a media gallery that’s been estimated at somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 members.

Copenhagen: The California Contingent

Here’s a list of prominent Californians either in or heading for Copenhagen next week. Compiled by Climate Watch intern David Ferry, it’s not intended to be exhaustive, but reflects responses from numerous queries we sent out prior to the conference:


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Addresses the conference on Tuesday, with a call to rally “subnational” players to continue local and regional efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Linda Adams, Sec. for Environmental Protection,California Environmental Protection Agency
Linda Adams, former director of the California Department of Water Resources, was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in May 2006 as Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency – making her the first woman to serve as head of the agency. Immediately upon appointment, Secretary Adams was designated as Governor Schwarzenegger’s lead negotiator on AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Adams is now working closely with states, provinces and countries around the world to develop a network of climate initiatives to achieve the greatest global reductions.

Mike Chrisman, Secretary for Natural Resources, California Natural Resources Agency
As a member of the governor’s cabinet, Mike Chrisman serves as his chief adviser on issues related to the state’s natural, historic, and cultural resources. In leading the Natural Resources Agency, Chrisman oversees the policies and activities of 25 departments, commissions, boards and conservancies. The issues run the natural resources gamut from conservation, water, fish and game, forestry, parks, energy, coastal, marine and landscape.

A. G. Kawamura, Secretary for Food and Agriculture, California Dept. of Food and Agriculture
Prior to his appointment, Secretary Kawamura was active as a produce grower and shipper from Orange County. As an urban agriculturist, he has a lifetime of experience working along and within the expanding urban boundaries of Southern California. On issues of domestic and international importance, Kawamura was an early supporter of renewable energy as well as being a vocal proponent of invasive species prevention, trade promotion and farm bill reauthorization.

Mary D. Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board
Mary Nichols has devoted her entire career in public and private, not-for-profit service to advocating for the environment and public health. In addition to her work at the Air Board, she has held a number of positions, including: assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air and Radiation program under the Clinton Administration, Secretary for California’s Resources Agency from 1999 to 2003, and Director of the University of California, Los Angeles Institute of the Environment.

Eileen Tutt, Deputy Secretary, California Air Resources Board and CalEPA*
Eileen Tutt, who has been with the ARB and CalEPA since 1990, currently serves as Deputy Secretary External Affairs. Prior to that, she worked in the ARB’s Executive Office managing three projects: the California Hydrogen Highway Network Blueprint Plan, Motor Vehicle Climate Change regulations, and joint effort with the California Energy Commission to make recommendations to the Governor and Legislator addressing the issue of California’s petroleum dependence.

*Tutt recently announced that she’s resigning from state government to become executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition.

Tony Brunello, Deputy Natural Resources Secretary for Climate Change and Energy

Marcia McNutt, Director, United States Geological Survey
Marcia McNutt, the recently appointed USGS director, is a California native. She has published 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles and also chaired the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration convened by President Clinton to examine the possibility of initiating a major US program in exploring the oceans.  She is a fellow for the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the International Association of Geodesy.

Nancy Skinner, State Assembly Member, California’s 14th District
Nancy Skinner is the Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee and is the founder of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.

Fran Pavley, State Senator, California’s 23rd District
Fran Pavley chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, and authored California’s tailpipe emissions reduction bill and, as an assemblymember, AB 32.


Derek Walker, Director, California Climate Initiative, Environmental Defense Fund
Derek Walker develops and coordinates legislative and communications campaigns in target states throughout the U.S. to generate support for strong global warming and clean energy policies. His primary responsibility is managing a team of policy and legal experts working on implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB-32).

Dan Jacobson, Legislative Director, Environment California
Dan Jacobson directs policy development, research, and legislative advocacy for Environment California. He led efforts to pass the California Clean Energy Act, the strongest renewable energy law in the country.

Louis Blumberg, Director, Climate Change at the Nature Conservancy
A self-described policy wonk, Blumberg leads the Conservancy’s climate change work in California.

Gary Gero, President, California Climate Action Registry
Gary Gero serves as president of the CCAR, which serves as a voluntary greenhouse gas registry to protect and promote early actions to reduce GHG emissions by organizations.


Dan Kammen, Professor, UC Berkeley School of Public Policy
Dan Kammen is an expert in national and international energy policy and has testified before Congress about energy and environmental issues.

Jayant Sathaye, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Jayant Sathaye is internationally recognized for his work on climate change project-related issues in transportation, land-use change and forestry, and energy demand and supply in the developing world.

Healy Hamilton, Biologist, California Academy of Sciences
Healy Hamilton’s “interests range from researching the effects of climate change on biodiversity to the evolution and conservation of cetaceans and seahorses.”

Oran Young, Professor, UC Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Management
Oran Young’s scientific work encompasses both basic research focusing on collective choice and social institutions, and applied research dealing with issues pertaining to international environmental governance and the Arctic as an international region.

Stephen Schneider, Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
Editor of the interdisciplinary journal Climatic Change, Schneider’s recent work has centered on the importance of risk management in climate-policy decision making, given the uncertainties in future projections of global climate change.

Christopher Field, Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
The director for the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, Field’s research emphasizes impacts of climate change, from the molecular to the global scale.

Terry Root, Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
Terry Root primarily works on large-scale ecological questions with a focus on impacts of global warming.

Rob Dunbar, Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
Rob Dunbar’s studies focus on global environmental change with an emphasis on air-sea interactions, tropical marine ecosystems, polar climate, and biogeochemistry.

Lisa Curran, Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
Lisa Curran’s current interdisciplinary programs examine the effects of land use change, climate, drought and fire on carbon dynamics and biodiversity; and impacts of governmental policies and industrial practices on ecosystems and rural livelihoods in Asian and Latin American tropical forests.

Michael Wara, Center Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
An expert on environmental law and policy, Wara’s research focuses on climate policy and regulation, both domestically and internationally.

Meg Caldwall, Senior Lecturer, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
The Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program at Stanford Law, Caldwall’s scholarship has focused on the environmental effects of local land use decisions, the use of science in environmental and marine resource policy development and implementation, and developing private and public incentives for natural resource conservation.

Michael Mastrandrea, Research Associate, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford
Michael Mastrandrea’s research focuses on the physical, biological, and societal impacts of climate change, policy strategies for reducing climate risks, and their accurate and effective translation for the general public, policy makers, and the business community.


John R. Fielder, President, Southern California Edison
President of SCE since 2005, Fielder is going to Copenhagen with the Climate Registry, a non-profit organization working to set standards for reporting greenhouse gas emissions.

Amit Chatterjee, CEO, Hara Software
Amit Chatterjee, who runs an environmental and energy management software company backed by Al Gore, told AFP that he was attending the conference to help define a “post-carbon economy” and “articulate the view from Silicon Valley” about climate change and cap-and-trade legislation

Google contingent
CEO Eric Schmidt is not going but representatives will be presenting sessions on web technologies and outreach strategies.

Nothing Ill About This Wind

Harnessing nordic winds -- The Middelgrunden offshore windfarm off the coast of Copenhagen

Harnessing Nordic winds: The Middelgrunden offshore wind farm, in the North Sea

Friday on The California Report, Rob Schmitz looks at what we can learn from the world leaders in leveraging wind power.

See the photo on the left? You’re looking at three percent of Denmark’s wind power generation. This is the Middelgrunden wind farm, located in the North Sea, not far from Copenhagen. There, twenty 120-foot wind turbines produce 40 megawatts of wind energy.

I visited Middelgrunden this week in a small boat. Luckily for me, the winds, normally furious at this time of year, were moderate. I went there for a story on how Denmark was able to develop a wind power infrastructure that now produces a fifth of the country’s electric power. This is a larger proportion than any other country on Earth. For the Danes, wind power is big business.

Up until thirty years ago, Denmark was largely an agricultural country. Now, wind power-related exports are on par with agricultural exports. They make up almost 10% of the country’s total exports.

How did Denmark get to this point? The same way Japan became the most energy-efficient country on Earth: the 1970s oil shocks. In the mid ’70s, Denmark relied on oil for more than 90% of its energy. Oil embargoes brought the country to its economic knees. The government quickly instituted “Car-free Sundays,” when Danes were forbidden from driving. Shop owners were asked to turn off their lights outside of business hours. In 1979, the Denmark created its first Ministry of Energy, and it got to work on harnessing what was then considered an alternative energy: wind.

Jutting out into the treacherous North Sea, Denmark has lots of it. By 2020, Denmark plans to rely on wind for half of its electrical supply. And by 2050, the Danish government wants renewables to supply all of the country’s electricity. These are ambitious goals, but Jakob Lau Holst, COO of Denmark’s Wind Industry Association, believes it can be done.

“If you just stick to long-term government investment, you can develop a market for this,”Lau Holst told me today. He told me that much of Denmark’s industry has a hard time doing business in the US because incentives for renewables like wind “are there one year and gone the next. It’s a mixed message to the industry.” It makes one wonder what could be accomplished with more long-term goals–like California’s commitment to 33% renewables by 2020.


Is this what tree huggers look like?

Poster in Copenhagen. Photos: Rob Schmitz

One look at the poster to the left that was pasted on a utility box along my normally trim and tidy Copenhagen street shows there may be more to the protests this weekend than your average environmentalist demonstration.

The hope that marked the first couple of days at this conference is starting to show some cracks: Countries in the G77, the bloc representing developing countries, have split between the poorest of the poor–island and small African nations concerned about how climate change will make life miserable for them–and the large developing countries like China and India. At issue, of course, is what kind of greenhouse gas reduction commitments should be made. The poorest countries would like to see the strictest commitments, the less-poor countries would like to stick to what they’ve already committed and call it a day.

I’m also starting to see/hear more protests in and around the Bella Center, urging the delegates to commit to deeper cuts in greenhouse gases than are currently on the table. One rather interesting protest was staged this morning by the group 350, at the metro station outside the conference hall. They chanted “We’re in the cold to stop the heat” over and over. Why? They were in their undies. And did they look cold. It was 35 degrees and raining outside.

No, it's not that hot here.

No, it's not that hot here.

All of these protests will most likely culminate this weekend, when a large-scale protest is scheduled in downtown Copenhagen. From there, marchers plan to proceed to the Bella Center. Danish Police have already confiscated bolt cutters and platforms used to break down/go over police barricades, and this discovery brings me back to that first photo.

There are other groups that no-doubt grasp the magnitude of the opportunity. With more than 3500 journalists in town, their message–whatever it is–has a better chance of getting out there. With more than 110 world leaders and heads of state arriving next week, all the better. But the imminent parade of important leaders is definitely giving this conference a Lollapalooza atmosphere. It feels like a huge circus devoted to climate change.

Last item: Check out the last photo in this post.

And to think that California spews out 470 million of these a year.

And to think that California spews out 470 million of these a year.

It’s the last thing you see from the elevated metro line before you get to the Bella Center. Everyone here has seen it and everyone’s talking about it–and it answers something I’ve always wondered about as a reporter. This is apparently the size of one ton of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s me standing at the base of it. No “circus” would be complete without balloons.

Ed. Note: The spelling of “tonne” denotes metric tons, the usual unit of measure for greenhouse gas emissions.