Florida meetings to focus on climate change

Bringing awareness to how environmental changes affect Floridians, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Charles Bronson have announced they will be co‑hosting “Conversations on Climate Change,” a series of Cabinet workshops on how Florida’s economy is affected by changes in climate and the need to expand renewable energy sources.

“Conversations on Climate Change” will begin Tuesday, April 3, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. after the Florida Cabinet meeting with “Climate Change: An Overview.” Future workshops are scheduled after the June 12, Sept. 18, and Nov. 14, 2007 Florida Cabinet meetings.

Each workshop will feature a new topic and national experts in areas such as: the science of rising sea levels, renewable energy sources, the impact of climate change on the insurance and financial industries, and more. The sessions will also give elected officials, business leaders and Floridians the opportunity to understand how these challenges and potential solutions present opportunities for the growth of new industries in the state.

“Climate change is a reality, and we need to learn as much as we can about the potential impact on our state’s financial health,” said CFO Sink. “As someone concerned about Florida’s economy, I’m proud to partner with Commissioner Bronson to learn from other states’ experiences as we evaluate and make informed decisions about the future of energy in Florida.”

Commissioner Bronson launched Florida’s “Farm to Fuel” program, which partners with “25x25,” the national bi-partisan organization whose goal is to see U.S. agriculture produce 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs by the year 2025.

“It is my hope these discussions will inform the people of Florida of the importance of renewable energy production in Florida,” said Commissioner Bronson. “Our goals are to reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil and keep green space in Florida by giving farmers yet another crop to produce.”

Special guest former New York Governor George Pataki, who made the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority in his administration, is planning to participate in the June workshop with other experts. Former Governor Pataki has been nationally-recognized for his leadership on increasing awareness of climate change among the Northeastern states.

The workshop “Climate Change: An Overview” will include discussions on:

• Climate Change: Stephen Mulkey, science advisor, Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida.

• Hurricanes: Kerry Emmanuel, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

• Sea Level Rise: Stephen Leatherman, director of the International Hurricane Research Center and Coastal Research Laboratory at Florida International University.

• Insurance: Tim Wagner, Nebraska insurance commissioner and director of the U.S. National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

• Investments: Dan Reicher, vice-president of Google, Former U.S. assistant secretary of energy.

• Renewable Energy Resources: Speaker TBD, Farm to Fuels

• International Impacts: Speaker TBD, British Consulate-General

The April 3 meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. after the Florida Cabinet meeting. It will be held in the Cabinet meeting room on the Lower Level of the Capitol in Tallahassee.

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