President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, the first head of state to come to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, is here to save his nation of low-lying islands. Last month, Nasheed held a Cabinet meeting literally underwater to highlight the peril his nation faces from uncontrolled global warming. On Tuesday, he met with subnational leaders, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) to learn how the state governments have been taking action during the Bush years and are continuing to lead despite Congressional paralysis. The Wonk Room caught up with President Nasheed in the Bella Center:
I was just speaking with the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and also the governor of Wisconsin. A number of American states are offering much better than what the center [federal government] is offering. Once we do the maths — Let’s do the maths now, and see what these states — because energy is not a central government issue, it’s a state government issue.
State and local governments leaders have been an untold highlight of the Copenhagen conference. Also Tuesday, 80 mayors “from New York, Toronto, Buenos Aires and Copenhagen” and around the world “led city leaders in signing a resolution calling for ‘an ambitious and empowering deal’ on carbon-dioxide emissions cuts.”
In the Bella Center, the delegation office of ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability — has been a nexus of action since the conference began, with leaders in transport, planning, development, and infrastructure discussing practical efforts to create sustainable solutions — even as these issues are almost entirely ignored at the treaty-level negotiations.