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GLOBAL CLIMATE SUMMIT: University signs on as academic representative to R20 initiative

By Dave Jones on November 17, 2010 in University News

Day 2 in pictures
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Photos by Karin Higgins and Cheng Saechao/UC Davis/ and Justin Short/Office of the Governor

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Gov. Schwarzenegger and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi participated Tuesday (Nov. 16) in a historic ceremony that gave life to R20: Regions of Climate Action, a public-private alliance that will work toward climate change solutions and building the global green economy.

The two-day summit, held at UC Davis, closed with the signing of the R20 Charter — which grew from last year’s Governors’ Global Climate Summit. R20 refers to the 20 regional leaders who first signaled their participation in the first-of-its-kind initiative at the subnational level.

Fast forward to this year’s summit, where the number of signatories topped 50, including Katehi.

“This is a historic and exciting opportunity for UC Davis to be party to such a forward-looking and far-reaching global initiative," Katehi said after the signing ceremony in Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

“UC Davis was the right home for this summit, and we are the right university to be the academic representative to this coalition.

“In so many areas of energy, the environment and sustainability, our students and faculty are on the cutting edge of moving advances from the laboratory to the marketplace, making ours a safer, healthier world for all.”

Katehi welcomed the summit to UC Davis on Monday (Nov. 15), in an address to a Jackson Hall audience of 1,200 people. Summit organizers said registration topped 1,500, with participants coming from more than 80 states, provinces and countries.

The chancellor touted UC Davis’ research capability and the university’s environmental reputation. Schwarzenegger agreed, citing his decision to move his annual summit from Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, to “the environmental capital of the world.”

Tuesday, Dean Steven Currall of the Graduate School of Management took the governor’s declaration a step farther, saying: “We believe that UC Davis can be to the green economy what Stanford University was to Silicon Valley and the information technology industry.”

Bringing innovations to market

In a morning address in Jackson Hall, Currall said: “No other university has this particular confluence of both momentum and opportunity that will lead to extraordinary advances in visibility and impact on the regional, national and global stage in the areas of clean energy, environmental preservation and commercialization.”

UC Davis, he said, “will bring new innovations to the marketplace to the benefit of society.” Which, of course, is right up his alley at the Graduate School of Management.

“The mission of a great university is to serve society and foster economic prosperity,” he said. “We achieve this mission by creating new knowledge through our research, by educating and inspiring our students to be informed global citizens, and by being a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship that serves as a magnet for researchers, business people and investors to translate our discoveries to tangible and useable products and services that enhance the quality of life for all those we serve.”

Later in the morning, as moderator of a panel discussion on “Capitalizing the Green Dream: Defining the Challenges and Opportunities,” Currall expanded on green economics.

“The global clean technology industry sector is massive and getting bigger fast,” he said, citing estimates that range from $2 trillion by the year 2020, to more than $13 trillion within the next two decades.

However, Currall noted, the financing challenges are complex, stemming in part from the fact that clean technology is a “family” of technologies: wind, solar, nuclear, biofuels and energy efficiency, to name a few.

“Each technology has its unique pace and process of moving through the phases of commercialization,” he said.

R20: ‘Action is needed now’

R20 brings together subnational governments and private and nongovernment partners, for an initiative that stemmed in part from the failure of national leaders to forge a climate treaty last December at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, or COP 15, to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“We can’t afford to wait for national and international movement,” Schwarzenegger said in a news release announcing the signing of the R20 Charter.

“Action is needed now, and action is what we’re taking with R20.”

“The role of subnational governments is more important than ever, and California has shown that state and regional governments can institute policies that will grow the green economy, create jobs and clean our environment. With this unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration, R20 will continue this leadership around the world and will help influence national and international action.”

According to the governor’s news release, R20’s mission is to develop and implement low-carbon and climate-resilient projects through cooperation among subnational governments around the world.

“This new, innovative coalition will catalyze partnerships between developed and developing subnational regions to fast-track actions in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation,” the news release states.

During its first year, according to the news release, R20 will facilitate public-private partnerships, share best practices, accelerate the development of green innovations and begin implementing clean energy demonstration projects.

“Within five years, the R20 aims to have at least 20 subnational governments enact comprehensive low-carbon policies and implement projects, using successful models from progressive subnational leaders as a guide. Through these efforts, the R20 will expand the global green economy, create new green jobs and build commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The coalition comprises an expanding roster of subnational government representatives from developed and developing countries. Also, R20 is partnering with organizations and individuals from the private sector, academia, national governments, international organizations and civil society to build momentum for climate action at the national and international levels.

R20 will work with the United Nations’ Development and Environment programs to demonstrate the critical role that subnational governments play in the fight to mitigate and adapt to climate change, according to the news release.

Amy Fraenkel, director of the North American regional office for the U.N. Environment Programme, or UNEP, said: “UNEP is pleased to be part of the R20 initiative, and is committed to working with all sectors of society, including subnational governments, to help in the transition to a low carbon, green economy.”

Other cross-border efforts

The Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 also included the signing of a memorandum of understanding to accelerate the collaborative work in an initiative known as REDD, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation — aimed at protecting tropical forests.

REDD is a partnership of three states: California, Chiapas (Mexico) and Acre (Brazil).

Under the new memorandum, according to a news release from Schwarzenegger’s office, a REDD working group will develop recommendations with the ultimate goal of bringing subnational REDD programs into California’s cap-and-trade program, thereby allowing California companies to use REDD credits for compliance.

The memorandum builds on the progress made through the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, which grew out of the first Governors’ Global Climate Summit in 2008.

This year’s summit also produced news from the Pacific Coast Collaborative Leaders Forum, held in connection with the Governors’ Global Climate Summit. The collaborative comprises California, Oregon and Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Schwarzenegger, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell attended this week’s leaders forum, and afterward they announced three actions related to the Pacific Ocean’s health.

According to a news release, the leaders:

• Signed a joint letter to the U.S. and Canadian governments on ocean observation systems.

• Announced that the collaborative’s four entities would create a coastwide marine debris alliance and develop a marine debris strategic plan for the West Coast.

• Adopted a report on a plan to eradicate Spartina (cordgrass) along the coast by 2018; Spartina is an invasive species that causes significant damage to wetlands.

“Our four governments are truly working collaboratively to strengthen the region’s economy and protect the ocean that touches us all,” Schwarzenegger said in the news release.

More information

Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3: Building the Green Economy

Videos from inside Jackson Hall

Hub Culture videos

Nov. 15 transcripts: Chancellor Katehi and Gov. Schwarzenegger

Earlier coverage

"Katehi urges national strategy to inspire change and courage" (Nov. 16, 2010)

“UC Davis researchers present an afternoon of appetizers" (Nov. 15, 2010)

“UC Davis hosts Governors' Global Climate Summit 3” (Nov. 5, 2010)

“World leaders to gather at Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 at UC Davis” (Nov. 3, 2010)



Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,