Leaders of the state are looking forward to Obamas plans that global warming and climate change will be a national priority when considering to-do things.
At a first-of-its-kind climate change meeting in Beverly Hills, international and state leaders said the problems that global warming present to the world are too big not to do everything possible to address it.
“When you realize the kind of impact that climate change can have on a state like Florida, as any other … I think the people of our respective states expect us to at least try to make a difference,” Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist said last week at the conference hosted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
International climate help
Rising sea levels and other global warming-related problems could devastate Florida and its tourist-driven economy, Crist said.
He and 12 other governors, as well as leaders from five other countries, signed a wide-reaching agreement Wednesday to work together on strategies to combat global warming.
Under the agreement, they also will create international working groups that will provide recommendations to United Nations negotiators who are drafting new global limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
Helping tropical forests
In one step, Schwarzenegger and governors from Illinois and Wisconsin signed an agreement to work with six other governors from Brazil and Indonesia to share technology and other resources to help reduce clear-cutting of tropical forests. The agreement was billed as the first of its kind between sub-national government leaders.
Governors like Schwarzenegger and Crist, both Republicans, have been on the national forefront on climate change in recent years as the Bush administration’s approach to global warming was criticized as lackadaisical.
Under Crist’s leadership, Florida passed a comprehensive energy bill this year that calls for the state to get 10 percent of its fuels from alternative sources by next year and provides millions of dollars in grants and incentives to develop and promote solar and other types of renewable energy.
In California, Schwarzenegger is fighting the Bush administration to require automakers to meet more stringent emissions regulations. He also launched one of the biggest solar energy initiatives in the world. And last week, he signed an order requiring California to get a third of its energy from renewable power by 2020, increasing previous goals.
Schwarzenegger and other governors began organizing the climate summit several years ago, partly to push the Bush administration and the next president to do more to address global warming.
Last week, they apparently got their wish.
In a videotaped address to conference attendees, Obama on Tuesday reiterated a campaign pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The Bush administration in the past has declined to adhere to measurable emission limits, claiming that doing so would hurt the U.S. economy and give economic advantages to still-maturing countries like China and India.
Delay not an option
Obama, however, made it clear he has a different view.
“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” he said in his remarks. “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high, the consequences too serious.
“When I am president, any governor who is willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House,” he said.
Obama’s remarks encouraged many at the conference.
“I do think this political issue is largely resolved with the election of … Obama,” said Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle. “And states that don’t get on this bandwagon are going to find they’re 15 to 20 years behind in the future.”