Los Angeles is host to consul generals from all over the world responsible for building closer diplomatic and economic relationships between their home countries and California & the Western United States. European Union member-state consul generals meet monthly to discuss policies of mutual interest and to coordinate consular activities.
Schwarzenegger Institute Global Director Bonnie Reiss was invited to the group’s April meeting held at the official residence of Polish Consul General Mariusz Brymora. Director Reiss provided an overview on the Institute’s work and participated in a wide ranging public policy discussion that touched on trade, education and criminal justice but mainly focused on climate change issues.
The consul generals acknowledged both California and Governor Schwarzenegger’s longstanding support for environmental protection and climate change legislation and were particularly interested in exploring ways for their countries to collaborate with the Institute and USC. They recognize the importance of sub-national efforts and how California’s actions have a global impact. It was also agreed that while the COP 21 agreement reached in Paris in December was important, the goals and targets set could not be reached without intense and continued action. The Institute’s collaboration with Sciences Po in Paris was highlighted as an example of important academic collaborations that can advance climate and environmental leadership. Other areas of collaboration discussed included innovation and clean tech, energy policy that advances renewable energy and policies that support greater investment in sustainable projects.
Director Reiss explained that California has proven that protecting the environment and strengthening the economy are not mutually exclusive. Despite having some of the most stringent emissions laws in the world California remains one of the strongest and most diverse economies in America. She is confident that transitioning to a clean energy future is possible for all nations but will require policy and behavioral changes. Additionally, strategic investment in technology as well as economic and political cooperation between countries and sub-national regions, and collaborations between regions and academic centers is important to this effort.
The meeting concluded with a commitment to continue working together, including utilizing the Institute to host European business and policy leaders in forums where they can converse with their California counterparts, and expanding the academic collaborations with leading European universities engaged in climate change research and studies.