BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opened his climate change summit on Tuesday by telling attendees from around the world that they can balance environmental protection with economic growth.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has led efforts to cut global warming in California, hopes the summit will influence negotiations over a new climate treaty during a U.N. gathering in Poland next month.
Just how countries will cut emissions remains a topic of intense debate, especially as the world grapples with the worsening financial crisis. U.S. and foreign businesses, as well as some European countries, have questioned whether cutting emissions will cost too much.
Schwarzenegger said states, provinces and countries can cut emissions by forming partnerships, as he has done as governor.
"I still have friends in the business world that come to me and say that this is going to hurt the economy," Schwarzenegger said in his opening remarks. "But of course, we believe very strongly it is going to help the economy."
Schwarzenegger has signed partnerships with governors of seven Western states and four Canadian provinces to develop regional cap-and-trade systems. He also has an agreement with the state of New York to explore linking California's future carbon market with a trading system in the Northeast.
Schwarzenegger addressed attendees from 19 other countries and 17 states. He announced the conference in September and sent out some 1,400 invitations to regional government representatives, scientists, policy experts and industry representatives.
The two-day summit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel has drawn more than 800 attendees to discuss strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The governor's message was reinforced by President-elect Barack Obama, who spoke to participants in a taped video.
Obama said the U.S. economy would continue to weaken if climate change and dependence on foreign oil are left unaddressed. He vowed his administration would vigorously take part in U.N. negotiations next year on the climate change treaty.
"Once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change," Obama said.
Tackling climate change can create millions of new jobs as the U.S. invests in technologies to promote solar and wind power, biofuels and cleaner coal-fired plants, Obama said. He said he favors a federal cap-and-trade system that could bring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, the same target adopted by California two years ago.
Obama also wants to commit the U.S., one of the world's biggest producers of greenhouse gases, to cutting emissions 80 percent by 2050. Scientists say such ambitious goals must be reached to minimize the consequences of rising global temperatures.
The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said temperatures worldwide could increase between 4 degrees and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 unless nations reduce their emissions.
On the Net:
Governors Global Climate Summit, http://www.governorsglobalclimatesummit.org .
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, http://unfccc.int