Climate Change Conference Draws Governors to Yale

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, March 30, 2008 (ENS) - Governors from across the United States will meet at Yale University on April 17 and 18 to review state-level programs to combat global climate change and to develop a strategy for future action.

Governors who plan to attend the conference include M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest will also be present, and other governors are exploring whether their schedules will permit participation.

The event will celebrate 100 years of state leadership on critical environmental issues, confront the present climate challenge, and set out a vision of a federal-state partnership for future action.

The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (Photo courtesy Yale University)

The gathering will also celebrate the centennial of President Theodore Roosevelt's landmark 1908 Conference of Governors, which launched the modern conservation movement, planted the seed for the National Parks System, and inspired significant state efforts to protect land.

"Roosevelt showed remarkable foresight a century ago in engaging the states' chief executive officers to preserve and protect the nation's natural resources," said Yale President Richard Levin. "Now, we face a new and critical challenge - global climate change - and leadership in the United States is coming from visionary state governors."

On April 17, Theodore Roosevelt IV will speak about the legacy of his great-grandfather.

In addition to his position as a managing director with the financial services firm Lehman Brothers, Roosevelt is a conservationist who serves as a member of the board of directors of the World Resources Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Wilderness Society, and is a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History.

The governors will meet privately for high-level discussions on climate change, and address the general public during a plenary session on April 18.

While at Yale, the governors are expected to sign a declaration that calls for a partnership approach between the federal and state governments to address climate change issues.

Several groups of states have formed to address carbon emissions regionally, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort by 10 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to establish a multi-state cap-and-trade program with a market-based emissions trading system.

2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Rachendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will address the gathering.

Several former administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including Christine Todd Whitman and Carol Browner, will also be part of the dialogue.

As one of the country's leading environmental schools, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, led by Dean Gus Speth, is uniquely positioned to host the Conference of Governors.

Founded in 1900 by Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelt's trusted advisor and founder of the U.S. Forest Service, Yale's environment school has a record of training leaders in conservation and pollution control. Pinchot organized Roosevelt's 1908 Conference of Governors, which inspired the modern conservation movement.

The school was the product of a gift from Pinchot, a member of the Yale Class of 1889, and his family. Their gift endowed the entirety of a department of forestry that became a school of forestry. It is now the oldest continuously operating school of forestry in North America.

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