DAVIS, Calif. -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and three international regional leaders signed a memorandum of understanding today in a bid to assert regional authority on climate change policy.

The "R20 Charter" establishes "regions of climate action" that will share best practices and technologies and form public-private partnerships to execute clean energy pilot projects. Along with Schwarzenegger, signatories included Île-de-France President Jean Paul Huchon of France; Nigerian Delta State Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan; and Association of Regions of Europe President Michele Sabban.

Officials said they had already received interest from more than 20 regions in Brazil, China, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Spain. Current actions in the vein of the "R20" concept include a workshop in Nigeria's Delta State on green business, put on by the International Chamber of Commerce. Another one has the International Energy Agency working with General Electric Co., Veolia Environment and others on a small-scale renewable energy plant in Morocco.

"We can't afford to wait for national and international movement," Schwarzenegger said, speaking at the close of his third Governors' Climate Action Summit. "The role of subnational governments is more important than ever, and California has shown that state and regional governments can institute policies that will grow the green economy, create jobs and clean our environment."

Schwarzenegger also signed an agreement to work with state governments in Brazil and Mexico on linking California's cap-and-trade program to the United Nations' nascent Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD), which provides incentives to rainforest owners to preserve their trees. Govs. Binho Marques of Acre, Brazil, and Juan Sabines Guerrero of Chiapas, Mexico, were co-signers.

'Remove the blinkers'
The REDD agreement builds off another pact Schwarzenegger brokered at his first climate conference, in 2008. That year saw the creation of the Governor's Climate and Forests Task Force, consisting of 14 states and provinces in the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and director-general of the Energy and Resources Institute, encouraged the agreements, saying that governments should think bigger. "I think worldwide what we really need to do is somehow remove the blinkers that have constrained the initiatives that businesses and governments have taken in recent decades," he said.

"We have become too preoccupied with short-term gains, mergers and acquisitions. The U.S. has the ability to innovate, looking at market possibilities 25 years down the road; we need to somehow restore that kind of vision," he added

But some attendees were wary of an overreaching government and skeptical of Schwarzenegger's motives.

"I think he wants a legacy; he wants to be remembered," said Marcia Battershell, a health care consultant from Placerville, Calif. She cited the effect of air pollution control laws on independent truckers and small farmers. "I'm not sure whether it's good for the people and businesses of California. I don't think that was a priority for him."

Battershell said she voted for Proposition 23, which would have postponed California's global warming law, A.B. 32, until unemployment fell to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. "I think timing is everything, and possibly the government and all the regulations should be less involved," she said. "If you allow businesses to find their way, people will be behind it."

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500