Governors’ Global Climate Summit 2: the road to Copenhagen

The experience of LA is still overwhelmingly one of cars, cars and more cars.  On a previous trip, with Jane Bird, CEO of Canada Line leading the way, we took transit to the airport – actually it didn’t quite make it to the airport – there was a transfer to a shuttle bus from the light rail line.  So we have done quite a few things right in Vancouver.

The point is that LA is an interesting location to choose (for the second year in a row) for bringing together Governors from around the world to take action on climate change.  One of the key points is the emphasis on the power of the “sub-nationals” to make change and drag along all their federal counterparts.

I attended  Summit 1 last year in my capacity as Commissioner of the Pacific Coast Collaborative Commission (www.pacificcoastcollaborative.org).  This was a one-year Commission to lead B.C.’s participation in the Pacific Coast Collaborative. The Collaborative is a forum to develop agreements amongst the Premier of British Columbia and the Governors of the States of Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington. The agreements provide a framework for cooperative action through the sharing of information on best practices with the goal of positioning the region as the heart of innovation and sustainable living in the Pacific Century.  They focus on clean energy, regional transportation, research & innovation, emergency management and a sustainable regional economy.  Hopefully the Leaders will meet this Fall to sign-off on the agreements that were constructed over the past year.

This year, I was supported by the UBC Sauder Business School to extend my regional contacts and bring back the learning/experiences into Sauder and UBC.  The Summit is organized into plenaries and breakout sessions.  Both tended to have extensive panels – ensuring that everyone gets their time in the spotlight and their opportunity to talk about the challenges and actions being taken in the various regions.

Will report using a series of blogs around various sessions.  Perhaps the most powerful opening remarks were made by Dr. Jane Goodall (I missed Harrison Ford on the first day!)  She began by giving the call of the chimpanzee which was quite beautiful.  Mainly she commented on her recent experiences and the programs of her foundation.  In particular she has visited Greenland where the melting is profoundly changing the character and culture of the landscape and its people.  She is involved in a “Take Care” youth program and a  “Roots and Shoots” program – service learning – 8000 groups in 100 countries (www.rootsandshoots.org).  She also spoke passionately about the need for ecological audits being integrated as part of standard business procedure.

My favourite quote was one she attributed to an Inuit person:  something to the effect that there is no doubt that the ice is melting – how long will it take to melt the ice in the human heart?

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