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Crist takes global initiative
The governor will star with high-profile celebrities at a climate change event.
By DAVID ADAMS, Times Staff Writer
Published September 26, 2007
Who would you not expect to find at a global warming summit? Top row, from left: tennis star Andre Agassi, Clinton, actress Angelina Jolie. Bottom row, from left: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Crist and media mogul Ted Turner.
[AP file photos]
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is taking his climate change agenda to a new, global level.
Crist will be a featured speaker - along with actor Brad Pitt, media mogul Ted Turner and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - at a major climate change event in New York today hosted by former President Bill Clinton. And that's just the beginning of a series of assignments over the next six weeks that will take Crist and members of his cabinet to Latin America and Europe.
"I think it's indicative of the larger pattern of what the governor is engaging in," said Jerry Karnas, Florida climate project director for Environmental Defense. "It's only been two months since the governor's climate change summit and a gale force policy wind has erupted across the state of Florida."
In his first state of the state address in March, Crist boldly promised he would put Florida "at the forefront of the growing world-wide movement to reduce greenhouse gases."
Crist's attention to climate change now seems to be catching the attention of a larger audience, including major international players. At his Miami summit Crist signed climate change partnerships with the British and German governments.
Crist returns to Miami in mid October for a "next generation renewable energy" conference, sponsored by the British government.
In early November he's leading a trade mission to Brazil, in part focused on that country's huge ethanol industry. That same week Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is traveling to London for a series of meetings about the financial impacts of climate change, including carbon trading schemes and increased insurance risk.
"Governor Crist's leadership in Florida has sent a signal across the country and around the globe that Florida and the Southeast are joining the march against climate change," said Susan Glickman, a longtime Tampa Bay environmental activist who was recently named as the U.S. Southern Region Director for the Climate Group, a 3-year-old nonprofit that advocates greater business and government leadership on climate change.
Crist flew to New York on Tuesday afternoon at the invitation of the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual international forum that attracts about 1,000 world leaders - heads of state, industry chiefs, celebrities and environmentalists - to wrestle with major issues such as energy, climate change, health, education, and poverty.
Crist is on an Energy and Climate Change roundtable titled "Redefining Business As Usual."
Speakers will address "how climate change is causing companies large and small to rethink not only their interactions with employees, customers and the public - but increasingly their very business models."
The panel will also explore "innovative and profitable strategies" being adopted by leading businesses.
Crist's office kept news of the New York trip under wraps most of the day, offering only a brief statement that the governor "will make a major energy announcement and attend a global climate change roundtable."
He spoke at lunchtime to a packed audience at an Orange County climate change summit in Orlando and made no mention of his New York trip.
Instead, he gave his now familiar upbeat energy speech, pushing his advocacy of clean energy, including wind, solar power, ethanol and hydrogen fuel cells.
Crist's reticence seemed unnecessary as his participation in a Democrat-laden event waswelcomed by some leading Republicans.
"I'm glad he's reaching across the aisle," said Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, who is active in environmental issues in the Senate. "I just think that those are things we should do. It should not be a political issue. It should be an American issue."
Times staff writers Steve Bousquet and Craig Pittman contributed to this story. David Adams can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.