The Obama administration was present in full force at the Summit. Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and principal policy advisor to President Obama emphasized the importance of research leadership – the Carbon Capture Research Initiative, China-US collaborations and also Australia-US partnerships developing on the research front. I wondered where Canada is in these discussions? I think there is a great opportunity for BC to partner with California (at the very least and perhaps also Alaska, Washington, and Oregon) on climate research. We now have the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) which is our 4 research universities working collaboratively on questions that come directly from the BC government and the Cabinet Committee on Climate Action. But the opportunities to partner with a powerhouse like California are immense. A similar climate research institute was proposed last year but was vetoed by the Governor (along with ~400+ other bills) due to budget problems. But I suspect the UC System and the Cal State system will move ahead on this initiative using general federal funding. We need to be in discussion with them.
The panel on Adapting to Climate Change was introduced by Mike Chrisman, California Secretary for Natural Resources (Secretaries in California are like our Ministers). Mike supervises a huge portfolio and 10s of 1000s of employees. He has been a real champion of the Pacific Coast Collaborative and especially of ocean health that led to the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health. http://westcoastoceans.gov/
Bryan Walsh, the environment columnist for TIME Magazine moderated this panel and started off with our own Premier Gordon Campbell. The premier talked about the fact that climate change has been with us in very tangible ways in BC for some time – e.g. the beetle kill is about the size of the state of Iowa right now. A good mental image for the mainly US audience. He spoke about new economic opportunities, the clean energy fund and our provincial responses on a number of fronts. He ended with a call to action for climate solutions.
Ann Veneman, the Exec Director of UNICEF and former US Dept of Agriculture Secretary was next up. She focused on issues of food security and the idea that people should be migrating on “merit”, not as climate refugees. She emphasized the impact on children and women relating to the availability of water, food and health care. Other speakers included Yannick Glemarec, Exec Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility and Dir of Environment Finance for the UN Development Program, Larry Schweiger, President of the National Wildlife Federation, Abera Tola, Director of Oxfam’s Horn of Africa Regional Office.
In the next blog I want to focus on the comments of 3 speakers – from the World Bank, Stanford and the Alliance of Small Island States.