CHICAGO– Taking his commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the international stage, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich will today join California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and leaders from the U.S., Brazil and Indonesia to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to reduce deforestation, which accounts for around 20 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
“In Illinois we understand the potentially catastrophic consequences climate change could have on our environment and we are acting on a state level to find solutions to reduce emissions,” said Governor Blagojevich. “By signing this international agreement today, worldwide leaders are committing to combat deforestation and land degradation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.”
Deforestation, particularly tropical deforestation leads to global warming, as trees are cut for logging, or to make way for cropland and development. Without adequate reforestation, habitat and biodiversity declines, and the resulting climate change can lead to disturbances in weather patterns, including hurricanes.
Under the agreement, the states of Illinois, California and Wisconsin will pledge to work with the governors of six states and provinces within Indonesia and Brazil to help slow and stop tropical deforestation, the cutting and burning of trees to convert land to grow crops and raise livestock, and land degradation through joint projects and incentive programs. Included in the MOU to be signed are agreements to:
· Focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation while promoting sequestration of additional carbon through restoration and reforestation and improved forest management practices; and
· Develop a Joint Action Plan by early 2009 to clearly outline progress. This progress will be discussed at the 2009 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Governor will sign the agreement while in Los Angeles co-hosting the Governors' Global Climate Summit hosted by the California Governor. At the Summit, Governor Blagojevich joined national and international leaders to develop cooperative national and international partnerships between states and provinces to reduce emissions, to grow their green economies and to influence the position their national governments take in the next global agreement on climate change.
While this deforestation agreement will reduce carbon dioxide (CO²) released into the atmosphere on a global level, last year the Governor announced a statewide push to reduce CO² in Illinois by planting two million additional native trees annually. It is estimated that this practice will absorb approximately 200,000 metric tons of CO² annually by 2020, as much CO² as taking 36,000 cars off the road.
Today’s collaboration between Governor Blagojevich and Governor Schwarzenegger builds on their mutual agreement that climate change must be tackled on a national and international level. In February 2007 and executives from BP to launch the Energy Biosciences Institute to be based at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley. The $500 million effort funded by BP was intended to invest in research on next-generation homegrown biofuels made from crops that will cut greenhouse gas emissions, boost America’s energy independence, and create new markets for Illinois farmers.
The impact of global warming in Illinois and around the world could be devastating, and the Governor has made climate change a top priority of his administration. Since taking office, the Governor has:
· Announced a statewide goal to slash the production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
· Launched the Global Warming Initiative through Executive Order that created the Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group (ICCAG), the first such effort by a Midwestern state.
· Tasked the ICCAG with developing strategies to meet his goal of cutting greenhouse gases in Illinois to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and received the report submitted by the ICCAG that included recommendations to meet his goal of cutting greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.
· Signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord. The Accord will help achieve his goal of reducing greenhouse gases in Illinois to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
· Announced a plan to designate 80 miles of Tollway lanes in the most congested areas as “Green Lanes,” which will take 1.4 million cars off of the road every year.
· Signed the Illinois Power Agency Act, creating a renewable energy standard that requires utilities to supply 25 percent of their power from wind power and other renewable energy sources by 2025.
· Joined the Climate Registry, which created national standards that businesses and governments can use to document their current levels of GHG emissions and track progress over time.
· Announced final approval of multi-pollutant rules introduced to slash mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from the three largest coal-fired power plant companies in Illinois. The companies are also required to shut down three of their oldest, least efficient boiler units, leading to a reduction of 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
· Joined the Chicago Climate Exchange where Illinois makes a voluntary, but legally binding commitment to reduce GHG emissions from state buildings and vehicle fleets.
· Announced am energy plan to provide new incentives to help triple Illinois’ production of ethanol and other biofuels. It also sets a goal of replacing 50 percent of the state’s energy supply with homegrown fuels by 2017.
· Announced that to date state fleet vehicles have used 3.4 million gallons of biofuel. State drivers have used more than 1 million gallons of E85, instead of gas, and more than 2.9 million gallons of biodiesel.
· Announced Illinois would power 141 Springfield-based facilities under control with clean renewable wind energy purchased from the Springfield’s municipal utility company, City Water Light and Power.
· Launched the Illinois Conservation Climate Initiative offering farmers and other landowner incentives to trap carbon dioxide and reduce methane emissions.