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Diplomacy in Action

Smart Partnership Dialogue: Global Engagement Series

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
Featuring Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change
Washington, DC
January 31, 2011


Welcome everyone to the Smart Partnership Dialogue: Global Engagement Series. This series provides state, local sub-national leaders and key stakeholders the opportunity to discuss important issues with high level officials within the Department of State. We conduct briefings such as this throughout the year. If you are interested in future briefing please let us know by emailing

This session of the Smart Partnership Dialogue, Global Engagement Series is designed to discuss sustainable development and climate issues that affect state and local communities and moving forward after COP 16.

Let me begin by thanking all the state and local elected officials for participating and for sharing their points of view in this smart partnership dialogue.

In particular, I would like to thank Mary Nichols, Chairman of California Air Resources Board, who I hear is calling in from London. Mary continues to serve the State of California with a new Governor after serving for nearly eight years with former Governor Arnold Schwartnegger.

The State of California is just one example of a state and local government facing grand global challenges, such as jobs, security, health care,--- and energy and climate change, which demands attention from all of us, no matter our differences. Also joining us from California are Deputy Secretary of Environmental Justice, Tribal and Border Affairs Ricardo Martinez and Assistant Secretary for Climate Change Programs Lauren Faber of the California EPA.

In addition to California, we have Doug Scott, Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from the Midwest and J. Jared Snyder, Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

We have also interacted with other officials from Arkansas, California, New Mexico, Illinois, and New York and many others at the most recent Climate Change summits.

I would like to recognize the work of Marty Chavez, Mayor Patrick Hayes and ICLEI during Cop-16. They were a part of the first delegation representing local governments. It is a pleasure to have ICLEI represented here today.

The local energy economies, weather and climate, needs and aspirations of every state, county, and city are unique and different. And, as we know from the efforts of many of you on the phone today, solutions to mitigating and adapting to global climate disruptions are going to come—indeed they are already coming—from state and local ideas.

This is the reason my office, the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, is working on this issue in partnership with the offices of the Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern and Deputy Special Envoy Dr. Jonathan Pershing, who will lead the dialogue with us today.

Dr. Jonathan Pershing is doing a tough job for our country with a lot of diplomatic confidence and candour.

Special Envoy Todd Stern spoke a couple of months back in a speech entitled “A New Paradigm: Climate Change Negotiations in the Post-Copenhagen Era.” In his speech, he emphasized “Much needs to be done, much is uncertain, and the future of climate diplomacy is still waiting to be made.” I think his remarks still apply post Cancun.

It takes trusted partnerships and collaborations between state, local, and global communities and their elected leaders like council members, mayors and Governors to work with each other, in spite of the differences in regional climate changes and their resulting impacts.

The Subnational leaders in particular care about how local policy affects and is affected by the grand global challenges facing humanity. And they are contributing their best ideas to contribute to potential solutions.

Now turning to our distinguished guest speaker today, the US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change discussions Dr. Jonathan Pershing.

Dr. Pershing brings more than 20 years of domestic and international experience in climate change science, technology, and policy to his position as the Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change.

Prior to joining the State Department, Dr. Pershing served as Director of the Climate, Energy and Pollution Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a non-partisan environmental think tank in Washington, D.C. He also directed the Environment Program at the International Energy Agency in Paris, and spent nearly a decade in the State Department as a senior climate official in the 1990s. Dr. Pershing is widely recognized for his work on international climate change architecture, including the design of a post-Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement. He has served on multinational advisory boards supporting the development of both U.S. domestic and international climate policy.

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