Road to Rio
In June 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development met in Rio de Janeiro to take stock of the progress achieved since the 1992 Earth Summit and to chart a new path for the future. In advance of the summit, the Georgetown Climate Center was joined by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and numerous states and provinces to discuss sustainable activity happening in states, provinces, and regions across the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Brazil. The event was co-sponsored by the Province of Quebec's Washington Bureau.
As the keynote speaker, Sutley discussed the Obama Administration's commitment to supporting healthy and sustainable communities and clean energy job growth while acknowledging that we still have a lot of work to do. She also emphasized the important role that states play in advancing environmental goals in the United States.
"I know that we, as a nation, have made the progress we've made on the environment not just because of federal laws, but certainly because of the incredible work at the state and local level.
"Sustainability – I think as we've learned over the last 20 years – is about protecting the environment, but it's more than just that. Certainly, from where I sit, and I think all of you sit, it is essential that we protect our natural resources, and that we understand the link between our natural resources and the health of our economy and our society."
States and provinces also weighed in and discussed an array of initiatives that are underway – including everything from conservation to energy efficiency to clean technology development to higher fuel efficiency standards.
Dan Esty, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, who was also with the Environmental Protection Agency at the Earth Summit 20 years ago, praised the outcomes of the original summit, but also underscored the large amount of work that still must be done.
"We are at a very, very awkward moment, and I do think it is critical that we recognize that it is important...to focus on getting the job done on the ground," he said.
Event Agenda and Participants:
Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law at Georgetown Law
Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Discussion of efforts to promote sustainability and address climate change through clean energy development and promoting innovation (e.g., renewables, electric vehicles), emissions trading programs, and multistate and cross-border collaborations. These initiatives and collaborations provide important examples of successful approaches to sustainable development.
- Doug Scott, Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission
- Dan Esty, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Kathy Kinsey, Deputy Secretary, Operations and Regulatory Programs, Maryland Department of the Environment
- Alain Olivier, Director, Québec Government Office in Washington, DC
- Brian Turner, Deputy Director, Washington DC Office of California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
- Marianne Rude, Washington Representative, Province of Manitoba, Canada
- Mark Rupp, Director, Washington DC Office of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire
- Vivian Thomson, Associate Professor, University of Virginia and Former Vice Chair, Virginia Air Pollution Control Board (discussing work of Brazil and German states)
Vicki Arroyo, Executive Director, Georgetown Climate Center & Visiting Professor, Georgetown Law