On Monday, January 31, I co-hosted with the office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change (S/SECC) and the Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs (OES) over fifty energy, environment and climate officers, as well as representatives of their professional organizations, for a post-Cancun conversation about climate change. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Dr. Jonathan Pershing served as the distinguished speaker. Representatives from state and city governments from California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin joined us in the dialogue. Organizations of elected state and local officials -- such as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), the National League of Cities (NLC), and Sister Cities International (SCI) -- engaged in the conversation. Policy specialists from the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC), and the U.S. Green Building Council (GBC) shared global and local perspectives. Eric Maltzer from OES shared information about the U.S.-China EcoPartnerships program.
Doug Scott, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency asked how state and local governments can more effectively communicate regional issues and help the U.S. climate change team directly. Dr. Pershing recognized many regional initiatives for promoting regional renewable energy resources in the northeastern, western and mid-western states. Dr. Pershing lauded the leadership of Governor Christine Gregoire, Governor of the State of Washington and Chairman of the National Governors' Association, for supporting the Center for Best Practices' green programs. Notably, Dr. Pershing mentioned the Center's fifteen clean energy technology recommendations. Director Tom Peterson of CCS shared CCS' state-by-state analysis, which shows that approximately 15% reductions in emissions are feasible while achieving economic gains. Dr. Pershing surmised that promotion of the renewable energy economy can be a boost for the creation of new jobs in the near-term and the medium-term, echoing a theme of the recent State of the Union address by the President of the United States.
Dr. Pershing and I will continue to engage state and local elected officials as the administration prepares for the upcoming climate change summit in Durban, South Africa in 2011 and beyond.
Our next Smart Partnership Dialogue, "Expanding Relationships in China for State and Local Governments," will be Thursday, February 10 at the Department of State from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a reception to follow at the Chinese Embassy from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.