With a career emphasis of many years delivering energy efficiency programs to customers and developing renewable energy sources as part of Sacramento’s power mix, I was excited to see international policymakers considering climate change issues back in December at the Copenhagen “Conference of the Parties” sponsored by the UN.

While subsequent news coverage highlighted the disappointment of many of the participants, I came away energized and hopeful as a result of what I learned.

There is a strong, international consensus that climate change is real and must be addressed. The United States was the key player in development of the draft Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time brings major emitters China, India, Brazil and South Africa to the climate change solutions table.

Most of all, it is clear that California is an internationally recognized leader on climate change, with our aggressive, continuous commitment to energy efficiency going back to the 1970s, our adoption of AB32, the first legislation in the US to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and the Pavley bill regulating tailpipe GHG from automobiles, and our development and support for renewable energy resources including our solar initiatives.

Our Sacramento region is perfectly positioned to ride this climate solutions wave. We are the state capitol, the hub of policy action.

We are also the leader in developing green jobs in California, with an astounding 87% jump (7,019 to 13,102 jobs) from 1995 to 2008 according to a new study by NEXT 10 reported by the Sacramento Bee January 18. We are home to at least 70 clean energy companies, many of them small startups, working on everything from new sources of energy to helping energy users become more efficient.

Our regional leaders in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties are moving quickly to implement new AB811 financing programs which will allow homeowners and businesses to implement solar and energy efficiency measures and pay through their property tax bills. Valley Vision’s Green Capitol Alliance, SARTA, SACTO, and the Metro Chamber, are leading the collaborative charge to ensure that the new green economy starts and grows here first.

With utility partners like SMUD, PG&E and Roseville, and the brainpower of UC Davis, Sac State, and the Los Rios Community College District, we’ve got the elements to make a real and lasting green economy. That’s why it’s important that we not pull the rug out from under these efforts by suspending AB 32.

Jan Schori joined Downey Brand as counsel in 2008, after 14 years as CEO of SMUD. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author.