California Governor, Legislature Take Aim at Climate Change

SACRAMENTO, California, April 4, 2006 (ENS) - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is ready to do battle with climate change. Today he directed the California Environmental Protection Agency to host a series of public presentations statewide to discuss recommendations to combat global warming in the state's Climate Action Team's report, released Monday. Presentations will be held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno and Humboldt County.

"The debate is over. The science is in. The time to act is now. Global warming is a serious issue facing the world and California has taken an historic step with the release of this report," said Schwarzenegger, a Republican. "We are all convinced that we can protect our environment and leave California a better place without harming our economy."

Schwarzenegger

At a press conference today in the State Capitol, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced public presentations statewide on actions to limit global warming. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)
Development of a multi-sector, market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which considers trading, emissions credits, auction, and offsets. The Climate Action Team should recommend to the Governor the structure for such a program no later than January 1, 2008, the report states.

The governor’s 2020 climate change emission reduction target, to reach 1990 emission levels, should be the basis for an emissions cap in the development of the program. The Climate Action Team should consider working with other western states to develop a multi-state program to minimize "emissions leakage," the report recommends.

California is the 12th largest source of climate change emissions in the world, exceeding most nations, according to the report.

Mandatory emissions reporting from the largest sources of greenhouse gases - oil and gas extraction, oil refining, electric power, cement manufacturing, and solid waste landfills - that build on the California Climate Action Registry, is essential, the report recommends.

In San Francisco on April 11, the governor will participate in the first Climate Action Summit, where environmental experts and key stakeholders from California and around the world will share strategies and provide input on the report's various recommendations. The team's recommendations have already been through a public comment process that attracted more than 15,000 comments.

The Climate Action Team's report is the result of the governor's executive order signed last June at World Environmental Day in San Francisco, that established pollution reduction targets and created a team of experts led by the Secretary of the CalEPA to recommend ways to achieve those goals.

The targets call for reductions to year 2000 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2010, year 1990 emission levels by 2020 and emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The Climate Action Team's report can be found online at: http://www.climatechange.ca.gov.

power plant

The 706 megawatt South Bay Power Plant located just south of San Diego in the city of Chula Vista burns natural gas and oil. (Photo courtesy Duke Energy)
"Global warming and the pollution from fossil fuels are threats here in California and around the world. I'm very proud of California's leadership in the movement to reduce greenhouse gases. We are an environmental partner not only to our nation, but to nations around the world."

Global warming threatens California’s economy, environment and way of life. Scientists say rising temperatures will shrink the Sierra snowpack, the largest source of California’s drinking and irrigation water, by 30 to 90 percent.

As the climate warms, sea levels are projected to rise and heat waves, smoggy days and wildfires will increase, while demand for electricity to power air conditioners soars.

“Global warming is not only a scientific problem – but the most important moral issue of our time,” said Reverend Sally Bingham, a trustee of Environmental Defense and Episcopal Diocese of California. It directly affects the survival of future generations.”

Signaling strong political support for California action to limit global warming, California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles and Assemblymember Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, both Democrats, Monday jointly introduced a bill to set concrete new limits on global warming pollution.

Assembly Bill 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act, would set the nation’s first statewide limit on emissions of the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, and spur a clean energy boom in the state, supporters say.

“It is clear that global warming is a problem we cannot ignore," said Nunez. "Democrats in the legislature have been working for years to address the issue, helping to lead the country and world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions with groundbreaking efforts.”

Nunez

Co-author of the Global Warming Solutions Act Fabian Nunez of Los Angeles is speaker of the California Assembly. (Photo courtesy Office of the Speaker)
The Global Warming Solutions Act would put teeth in the governor’s Executive Order by establishing a legally binding statewide limit on global warming emissions. It also would set reporting requirements for industry to ensure that the 2020 targets are achieved.

“California’s legislative leaders get it, and so does the governor,” said Karen Douglas, director of the California Climate Initiative at Environmental Defense. She said the bill would curb California’s global warming emissions across all energy sectors and jumpstart a new energy economy.

The bill would require state agencies to coordinate investments and programs to reduce global warming pollution, and to promote economic growth by encouraging the deployment of emissions reduction technologies.

“These new standards build on California’s world leadership in clean air and clean energy solutions. We will create a clean technology boom in California that breaks our addiction to fossil fuels and protects our health and economy from the effects of global warming,” said Devra Wang, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's California energy program.

“Innovation will stimulate business investments in advanced energy alternatives and generate new clean-tech jobs,” said Wang.

Reductions in global warming pollution can be achieved at a net benefit to state industry and consumers. The California Climate Change Center at the University of California at Berkeley found that California could achieve almost half of the governor’s 2020 targets while increasing Gross State Product by about $60 billion and creating more than 20,000 new jobs.

The full report is available at: http://calclimate.berkeley.edu/managing_GHGs_in_CA.html

“The Global Warming Solutions Act will draw the investment capital, companies and jobs needed to establish California as a leader in the competitive clean technology market,” said Bob Epstein, co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and a trustee of NRDC.

The California Environmental Protection Agency estimates that worldwide demand for new technologies developed to reduce global warming emissions will create a global market potential of more than $180 billion annually.

The Global Warming Solutions Act is part of a package of bills that would require any new commitments to electric generation serving California to meet a minimum standard in terms of global warming emission levels; would authorize continuing state investments in renewable energy and research and development; would ensure that all electric utilities maximize cost-effective energy efficiency; and would encourage purchases of new cars that emit less global warming and smog pollution.