Big welcome for California's global warming bill

Posted: 5 September 2006

Environmentalists have given a big welcome to the agreement reached by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor of California, on Thursday, for a state-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions - a move that is directly contrary to the past policy of President George Bush, who pulled the United States out of the Kyoto protocol to set national emission targets.

"I want to pump solar up," says Arnold. Photo: California Resources Agency.
"I want to pump solar up," says Arnold.Photo: California Resources Agency.
"We commend California’s business, faith-based and legislative leaders who made this happen," said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense. "By capping emissions in California, world-class entrepreneurs can dispel the myth that reducing global warming emissions will harm our economy. This provides even more momentum for Washington to act – Americans want action on global warming." "We’ve reached a tipping point in the fight against global warming,” said Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The whole world has been watching to see whether California passes this bill, and now the world will watch as California takes the lead in developing a clean energy market. California is an inspiration for all of us. Other states, the nation, and other countries would do well to follow California’s example." "California’s action today is a watershed moment in the fight against global warming," said Jim Marston, a senior attorney for Environmental Defense who heads their efforts to address global warming at the state level. "States must lead in the absence of federal action on global warming. It’s no wonder that today 19 states and four former EPA [Environment Protection Agency] administrators also filed Supreme Court briefs to force the federal government into action on reducing our global warming pollution."

Market mechanisms

California senators voted 23-14 in favour of the energy plan after weeks of negotiations. It is expected that the Democrat-controlled assembly will back the plan.

Almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissionsin California comes from passenger vehicles.© US Environmental Protection Agency
Almost 40% of carbon dioxide emissionsin California comes from passenger vehicles.© US Environmental Protection Agency
Almost 40 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions in California comes from passenger vehicles.© US Environmental Protection Agency
The energy bill would limit the state’s global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and institute a mandatory emissions reporting system to monitor compliance. It would also allow for market mechanisms to provide incentives to businesses to reduce emissions while safeguarding local communities.

Under the bill, a panel appointed by the governor, will have the job of identifying ‘market –based compliance mechanisms’ that can be used as part of its plan to achieve the cap on emissions.

The bill has been welcomed as a step towards fighting global climate change, but experts in the field warn that the goal of a universal carbon trading system may be a long way away. “What’s encouraging is that California and the Northeast states are definitely aligned in their views about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” said Abyd Karmail, senor vice-president of the carbon marketing consultants, IFC consulting. But, he told Reuters, “the challenge is fitting in with the various other initiatives going on (globally).”

California is the most populous US state and the world’s 12th largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Sources: The Environmental Defense and others

Note: Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council ( NRDC) are co-sponsors of the legislation and have worked along side Assembly authors Fabian Núñez and Fran Pavley on the global warming legislation.

Environmental Defense is a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 400,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. www.environmentaldefense.org

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and online activists nationwide. www.nrdc.org

For more background information on the California bill AB 32 please visit: www.solutionsforglobalwarming.com