Brief: University unveils plans for this week’s climate conference

At least five governors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, are expected to converge on Yale later this week for the University’s conference on climate change, the University announced Tuesday.

The University released more details this week about the conference, which is quickly turning into a high-profile event. Dozens of reporters have already requested credentials to cover the conference, a Yale official said, and crowds are expected to be so large that the public portions of the conference will be held in Woolsey Hall.

In addition to Schwarzenegger, among the other governors expected to attend are M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Rod Blagojevich of Illinois. Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer are also slated to attend the conference, as is former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman.

The highlight of the conference, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, will be public addresses on Friday by Schwarzenegger and the winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, R. K. Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Those speeches will follow the governors’ signing of a declaration calling for increased efforts to combat climate change, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday in Woolsey Hall.

Earlier in the day, at 10:30 p.m. in the same venue, the two Canadian premiers and three of the governors — Sebelius, Corzine and Blagojevich — will partake in a roundtable discussion on innovative state initiatives aimed at fighting global warming. The panel will be moderated by Scott Pelley of CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

The conference will come exactly one century after President Theodore Roosevelt summoned the nation’s governors to the White House in 1908 for an environmental conference organized by the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, the co-founder of the Yale School of Forestry and Environment Studies.

The modern American conservation movement, environmentalists agree, was born in that meeting.

“Roosevelt showed remarkable foresight a century ago in engaging the states’ chief executive officers to preserve and protect the nation’s natural resources,” University President Richard Levin said in a statement Tuesday. “Now, we face a new and critical challenge — global climate change — and leadership in the United States is coming from visionary state governors.”

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