Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Teambuilding Exercises, Harrison Ford & Protests

Harrison Ford just told the audience in here that we're all members of Team Earth. "We're members of the team. The only question is whether we'll get off our butts and get in the game." I'm not sure the protesters agree that there is no I in team. They definitely don't think Arnold Schwarzenegger is on their side.

Already it seems we've got more clusters of opponents here at the Governor's Global Climate Summit 2. We started this morning with fishermen who want Schwarzenegger to know they're not really interested in Marine Protected Areas in the South Coast Region. I've been covering that process, and hearing plenty along the way from environmental groups, conservation groups, scientists, fishermen inside and outside their industry lobbies, spearfishermen, surfers. Including the California Fisheries Coalition, which has worked in and around the process actively. It's rare, though, to see people still, at this point, asking for no marine protected areas at all. For a couple of reasons: first, we're well underway with the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act in other parts of the state, notably the Central Coast. And second, because this process has been remarkably collaborative, relative to other regional management efforts.

Unions showed up too. Hundreds of union protesters upset at the governor raised their voices outside the Hyatt Regency.

Inside the hotel, Sierra Club of California and other environmental groups are still mad about the Governor's veto of Renewable Portfolio Standards. Legislators passed a bill in early September, setting guidelines for rules that would require all utilities in California to make renewables a third of their energy mix by 2020. The governor vetoed it, instead choosing to direct the California Air Resources Board to take action under the auspices of AB 32. Some groups remain ticked off: Sierra Club, California Wind Energy Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others. They're worried an executive ordered RPS will offer less market security than a law will, since technically a future governor could revoke it. On top of that, the governor's guidelines and what the legislature passed may differ significantly, in the end, in how renewables from out of state count towards portfolio goals, if not what counts as a renewable.

No sign of recognition of this issue inside this conference. Everyone's looking ahead to Copenhagen. But the diversity of protestors' issues and their presence seems remarkable this year, compared to last year. More evidence both of the event's profile, and of California's economic problems.