Schwarzenegger Announces New Climate Change Alliance

A new alliance to fight climate change was formed this week. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger concluded the Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 (GGCS 3) yesterday by announcing a new public-private alliance that spans the globe will promote clean energy, climate resiliency, and a green economy.

Over 1500 public officials and representatives from non-governmental organizations from more than 80 states, provinces, and countries attended GGCS 3. At the end of the summit, a group of attendees agreed to be part of a new climate change alliance, known as R20: Regions of Climate Action. The mission of the R20 will be to pursue low-carbon and climate resilient projects at the subnational level.

In the first year, the group will share clean energy technology and knowledge between developed and developing countries. Five years out, the group aims to have 20 subnational governments enacting comprehensive low-carbon policies.

This is one of a number of subnational climate change efforts taking place in the run up to the United Nations climate change conference in Cancun, which starts November 29. These local efforts are all the more important given that an overarching global agreement on climate seems further and further away.

At this point a regional approach may make more sense. All causes and effects of climate change occur at a local level. Some might argue you need an international agreement to guide local solutions. However, as Governor Schwarzenegger said at the conclusion of the summit, ““We can’t afford to wait for national and international movement. Action is needed now, and action is what we’re taking with R20.”

Just as the coalition that arose to defeat Proposition 23 in California showed the new face of climate change advocacy, R20 could show a new path forward for mitigation and adaptation efforts. Many see the global negotiation process as unwieldy and slow to response to changing conditions. R20 promises to fast track action on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation, with local governments able to respond in real time rather than waiting for an international forum.

There are some concerns about R20. For one, there is no provincial representation from China, the world’s largest carbon emitter. There’s also worry that R20 could be all bark and no bite. It was announced over a year ago yet little has been done to make it a reality. This might reflect skittishness on behalf of subnational governments to really get involved in addressing climate change.

Still, R20 is in its infancy, and whether it's a success or not, at least its an attempt to do something. While China may not be aboard, other major emitters including the US, Canada, and Brazil are. And if efforts can succeed in those and other signatory countries, its possible they could be replicated elsewhere.

Photo Credit: Flickr