Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
U. S. Center
Cancun, Mexico
December 6, 2010

Thanks to Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director of the Georgetown Climate Center for organizing this panel of speakers from California, Illinois and New York for a discussion of regional climate change issues from three parts of the U. S. A., with very different weather conditions and local needs.

The elected Governors or Chief Ministers of states and provinces across the Globe have been leaders in recognizing climate change as an issue that the world must address regionally, nationally and globally. They have particularly recognized that for reduction, remediation, and mitigation, the world is going to need Sub-national action particularly involving State elected leaders.

I am delighted to note that three panels today will be addressing the climate change issues as it relates to State Governments.

This panel will kick off the day with discussions of “U. S. State and Regional Climate Leadership,” and will be followed by a panel entitled “Using all tools at our disposal,” at the U. S. Center here in Cancunmesse.

The third panel to be held between 815 and 945 p. m. In the Pitaya Room will address Subnational Climate Action in US and China.

These panels and indeed many of the other discussions here in Cancun and around the world are about local actions by elected city and state leaders. Secretary Clinton created my office in the U.S. Department of State to promote State Department support of State and Local activities.

Secretary Clinton spoke at the April 20th Energy and Climate Change Partnership of the Americas conference and she emphasized the benefits of the diversity of resources, needs, economies and opportunities. The Secretary underscored the need for collaboration between countries around the world including both hemispheres and gave many examples of regional projects.

Secretary Clinton recognizes that State and Local officials around the world face so many daily challenges: providing security, health, food and water, education, and jobs.

And, now there is the real threat of global climate change impacting the abilities of local communities facing these daily challenges. These communities are responsible for adapting to the threats and mitigating their impact.

Global climate change, like many other global grand challenges, has a local impact in the form of floods and hurricanes, rainfall and tornadoes, shortage of food and water supplies and resulting detriment to human comfort and heath.

Every so often, the local impact of global challenges is so severe that Regional, Federal and Globalresponses become necessary for:

a) fighting forest fires,
b) capping oil wells,
c) rebuilding after earthquakes, tornados, and tsunamis, and,
d) protecting biodiversity.

The United States is committed to working with our partners around the world to continue the effort to build a strong, effective, science-based, global regime to combat the profound threat of climate change.

This Climate Action Report includes a large section on local responses to climate change. It recognizes that a significant portion of the reductions in CO2 emissions must come from State and Local Government actions with the support, help and coordination by federal governments.

What we have realized is that issues like local energy sources, electric grid, and transportation infrastructure are inherently intertwined with climate change issues. Each state, city and local community of course has different needs and basis for approaching some of these challenges.

The local actions are typically more relevant to the context and demands of the constituency and therefore more effective. These actions are often related to infrastructure and include: accessible and convenient clean public transportation, high efficiency building codes for insulation as well as appliances, local generation with solar, wind, geothermal and bio-fuels, and higher mileage for conventional cars as well as electric automobiles.

Since its inception, my office works with various Bureaus and Offices within the U. S. Department of State to facilitate collaborations and partnerships among U. S. state and local organizations such as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative- US chapter (ICLEI- USA), (note: ICLEI has changed their name to – “ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability”) 'the United States Conference of Mayors , the National League of Cities, the National Governors Association as well as global organizations such as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative (ICLEI), the International City Management Association and the Centre for Climate Strategies, just to name a few. These organizations have been combining expertise in facilitation, communications, technical analysis, and policy development to provide cutting edge collaborative solutions to build capacity and advance community resilience and sustainability.

We have collaborated with the Office of Global Change—the climate change office in the State Department-- to support programs such as the U.S.-China Eco-Partnerships program. Some Eco-Partnerships involve sub-national organizations such as Counties and Cities working with their counterparts in other countries to address specific problems associated with global disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Other Eco-Partnerships involve Communities, Universities and Corporations collaborating on opportunities such as renewable energy development.

Many of us participated in a World Summit in Mexico City organized by the United Cities and Local Governments for sharing information and promoting collaboration on addressing the most serious issues.

And here at Cancun, my office is participating in these three panels with U.S. state officials to discuss subnational solutions.

The Subnational leaders care about the challenges facing humanity and are contributing their best to potential solutions.