Following up on the successful international agreement at COP 21 in Paris, the UN hosted world leaders in Germany for COP 23. As in Paris, the UN continues to recognize the growing role and impact of subnational governments and paid particular attention to the success of California in passing laws and regulations that protect the environment, reduce green house gases and support economic and job growth. A number of California leaders attended the conference including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In a keynote speech delivered at the COP 23 Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger highlighted the important role that cities, states and regions are playing in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and explained how local governments continue to serve as the world’s “laboratories of reform and engines of innovation.” Schwarzenegger promised that he and the Schwarzenegger Institute will continue to work with leaders committed to the Paris Agreement and that he will continue to invest time and energy in helping the world meet the goals laid out in that agreement.
In his speech, Schwarzenegger stressed the importance of working together, and learning from each other. He highlighted an innovative tool created by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute to help the “heroes of the green energy revolution” share and replicate policies and initiatives that help local governments accelerate their transition to a clean energy future. Speaking at ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Summit Schwarzenegger announced that the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, that the Institute launched earlier this year, which in the first year will focus on dissemination to state legislators in the U.S, will soon start cataloguing cutting edge international laws that promote air quality, energy efficiency, human health and mitigate climate change. Through partnerships with the R20 and other groups representing subnational leaders outside the U.S. this tool will serve as a vehicle to support all leaders across the globe.
“At the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, we launched the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook so that governments and people can share the policies – from solar incentives to recycling programs to tailpipe emissions reductions,” said Schwarzenegger. “We started by sharing the great work we have done in California, and all the over the United States and let me tell you something: people are in heaven. They love having a one-stop shop for policy. It’s been a huge hit. So, we are proud to announce that we will share policies from state and local governments all over the world. The handbook is a green training manual for cities and states…the Handbook is a foundation to any subnational leader who doesn’t want to wait. Provinces in African can use ideas from cities in China, and states in Europe can borrow from us in California, and in California can use ideas from Africa.”
The USC Schwarzenegger Institute partnered with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) to create the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, an online resource that helps state legislators learn from their colleagues throughout the world. The Handbook was created to help to assist legislators who are interested in advancing smart environmental policies by sharing best practices and actual legislation that is working successfully in a number of states already. The Institute is proud to have former California State Senator Fran Pavley serve as the director of legislative outreach.
Governor Schwarzenegger has long insisted that voters aren't interested in Republican air or Democrat air but instead simply want clean air. That belief guides the selection process for choosing which legislation to include in the database. Lawmakers from all political parties and all regions throughout the world should be able to use the Handbook to find creative legislative solutions to many of the environmental and public health issues facing the people and communities they represent.