US & World

Governor Schwarzenegger hosts international climate summit

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate summit continues in Beverly Hills today. Last night California and other U.S. states signed an agreement on tropical deforestation with Indonesian and Brazilian regional states. KPCC's Molly Peterson has the story.

Molly Peterson: Governors of several states including California say they want to partner with Brazilian and Indonesian regional leaders to reduce deforestation in those developing countries.

That could happen where polluting industries in American states pay for forest preservation abroad. So-called "offset projects" help companies meet limits on greenhouse gases in one place by offering credits to prevent emissions somewhere else.

Tony Brunello: So what we're saying...

Peterson: Tony Brunello is with California's resources department.

Brunello: ... is that we want to work with those states to develop the institutions, the monitoring the inventory efforts we're doing, and raise them up to the standards we have both in California as well as in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Peterson: These offset projects are controversial. Unstable governments and limited monitoring can make it hard for outside agencies to confirm environmental gains. But The Nature Conservancy's Duncan Marsh said it's necessary to slow global warming with good forest management.

Duncan Marsh: The same way that the California forest fires are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, that's exactly what's happening in countries like Brazil and Indonesia, and if we are to solve the climate problem, we have to get at that problem.

Peterson: Marsh and others at the summit pointed out that scientists attribute roughly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions to forest destruction.

The new agreement will start California and other states talking about the problem. But Tony Brunello of the state's resources agency said California isn't committed to any projects yet.

Brunello: We have a very strict system for what rules we have to comply with in California. And nothing will move unless we can comply with those efforts.

Peterson: Brunello said a United Nations climate meeting in Poland next month is also likely to focus on forest management.