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Schwarzenegger to convene climate summit

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has challenged his party to take climate change seriously, plans to invite officials from around the globe to a summit in November.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has challenged many members of his party to take climate change seriously, said Friday that he plans to invite lawmakers and governmental executives from around the globe to California this fall to address solutions to the problem.

The governor said he will invite officials from Europe, as well as from Australia, China, India and other countries, in the hope of forming an international alliance of community and regional leaders.

He is planning the conference for November, a month before the United Nations holds its next round of international climate talks in Poland. Governors from all 50 states also will be invited.

"The real action for any new ideas is always on the local level," Schwarzenegger told a gathering of the Commonwealth Club of California, a nonpartisan educational organization. "This is how we can push the agenda."

Schwarzenegger has been at odds with the Bush administration over environmental policy, criticizing what he calls a failure of leadership on global warming and other matters. California and other states sued the federal government after the administration denied their attempt to impose stringent vehicle emission standards to improve air quality.

Earlier this year, legislation seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stalled in Congress.

Schwarzenegger said he conceived the summit largely because of the failure of the U.S. to take the lead on initiatives seeking to slow or reduce the rate of global warming.

"Like I said, we are not waiting for the federal government," he said. "We will continue on to push forward."

Schwarzenegger's office said the summit will be scheduled Nov. 18-19 in Los Angeles, but the office did not yet have a list of leaders who would be invited.

His address to the Commonwealth Club came the day before the second anniversary of his signing of California's global warming law, which requires the state to cut its emissions by roughly one-third by 2020.

State air regulators have spent much of the past two years designing California's new program and are scheduled to release the framework at the end of the year.

But California is still years away from forcing large polluters to scale back their greenhouse gas emissions. The 2006 law doesn't require sweeping reductions until 2012.

Some industries and Republican lawmakers have sought to slow the process, saying it could cost too much at a time when the economy is in peril.