Schwarzenegger said because of its environmental laws, California is 40 percent more energy efficient that the rest of the nation.
Working with the federal government, California is hoping to develop what will be the largest solar and wind farms in the world.
"The environment is too often labeled as a Democratic issue, too often labeled as a liberal issue," Schwarzenegger said. "But this is not a political issue. This is a people's issue."
Schwarzenegger is hoping states and provinces from more than 20 countries will launch carbon-cutting programs being considered by the United Nations.
Many of those who spoke said state and provincial leaders want to tap private investment to generate jobs in the alternative-energy field, while also reducing emissions.
"Local governments and state leaders around the world are reacting to the tangible benefits of clean energy, economic development opportunities and the imminent threats they are facing, and realizing the problem doesn't have any borders," said Derek Walker, director of the California climate initiative at the Environmental Defense Fund.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.