Climate: At the Governator’s Climate Swan Song

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Credit: Max Whittaker/Reuters

I’m back from vacation (I’m sure I was missed), but I didn’t go home. I’m out in rather lovely Sacramento today and tomorrow, to moderate a couple of panels at the third Governor’s Global Climate Summit. The meeting is outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s annual gathering of governors and other subnational leaders from around the U.S. and the world, to talk about what states—as opposed to nation-states—can do about climate change and energy on their own.


I’ll be moderating a brief discussion between executives from Chevron, BMW and Southern California Edison on innovative solutions to the energy challenge, beginning around 2:30 PM PST. That’ll be followed by another panel featuring governors from the U.S. and Mexico at 4 PM PST. You can follow the entire two-day summit via webcast—check out the keynote address by the Governator himself at 10:30 AM PST, followed by a panel on the green economy featuring Nancy Sutley, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and moderated by my former colleague Eric Pooley of Bloomberg Businessweek, and the author of The Climate War.

I had a chance to attend last year’s governors’ summit in Los Angeles—this year’s event seems a little shrunken down, in part because Schwarzenegger will be leaving office in a few months. Last year of course the focus was on what the U.S. could do on a national level for climate, and on the UN summit in Copenhagen and the chances for a global deal. This time around, in the wake of cap-and-trade’s failure in the Senate and the Democrats’ electoral drubbing, expectations are a bit different.

But California is still green, as shown by the decisive defeat of Proposition 23 and Jerry Brown’s victory in the governor’s race over climate waverer Meg Whitman. For now it looks like the future of climate and energy action will really begin at the state and city level, and it will begin in California, which is set to start rolling out the details of its own carbon capping plan later this year. It’s a start—and a major one, given that California alone is the eighth largest economy on the planet. But there’s a lot more to do, and the hour is getting late. I’ll have more from the summit today and tomorrow.