Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, his counterparts in 12 states and regional leaders from four other countries signed a declaration Wednesday pledging to work together to combat global warming, a move Schwarzenegger said will help push heads of state to curb their nations' greenhouse gas emissions.
The document was signed on the last day of an international climate summit organized by the California governor, who hopes the two-day event will inform U.N. negotiations in Poland next month on a new global climate treaty that is to be completed by the end of next year.
"We have to draw people into the debate," Schwarzenegger said during an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. "We have no choice. In the end, we are going to destroy the world" if greenhouse gases are not reduced.
Governors and regional leaders
The governors and regional leaders in Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Indonesia agreed in the document to develop policy positions on the industries that produce the most greenhouse gases — forestry, agriculture, cement, iron, aluminum, energy and transportation.
Those reports will then be forwarded to the United Nations. The chairman of a state pollution control board in India also signed the declaration.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat and one of four other governors co-hosting the summit, said it is incumbent on states to cut emissions because of the lack of action so far at the federal level.
Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida and Democratic Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin are the other co-hosts of Schwarzenegger's conference, titled the Governors' Global Climate Summit.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has advocated strict reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, said he organized the gathering to show local governments in other countries that emissions can be cut without harming the economy.
Since taking office in 2003, he has entered into partnerships with the governors of seven Western states and four Canadian provinces in an effort to help polluting industries buy credits from other companies that have been able to reduce their emissions.
'We can do it with fairness'
In a speech to the conference Wednesday, Schwarzenegger said national economies will be harmed if governments fail to cut emissions.
"We can do it with fairness and equity so all our economies will flourish ... and no one is being held back," Schwarzenegger said.
Wisconsin's governor acknowledged that many governments are financially strapped but said his state must find creative ways to reduce emissions.
"You can't go the other direction," Doyle said. "I would hate to see us come out of economic doldrums two years from now and find that we have moved 25 years backwards."
Such moves will not come without costs, however, said Sabine Miltner, a director at Deutsche Bank.
She said sufficiently reducing emissions will require capital investments of roughly $500 billion a year between 2010 and 2030. Miltner suggested the U.S. and other governments weighing economic stimulus packages invest some of the money in energy efficiency projects, transmission lines for renewable power sources and public transportation systems.
The United Nations has a December 2009 deadline to complete a treaty to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. That treaty, which expires in 2012, does not include the U.S. or China — the world's largest emitters.
Other governors who signed the declaration were Bill Ritter of Colorado, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Martin O'Malley of Maryland, David Paterson of New York, Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, Jon Huntsman of Utah and Christine Gregoire of Washington.