California Governor Orders Cuts in Global Warming Emissions
SAN FRANCISCO, California, June 2, 2005 (ENS) - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday announced greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for California at the United Nations World Environment Day celebrations in San Francisco. The governor signed an Executive Order which establishes these greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and charges the California Environmental Protection Agency secretary with the coordination of the oversight of efforts to achieve them.
The Executive Order establishes three targets for reduction of global warming pollution:
California is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change through the reduction in the quality and supply of water to the state from the Sierra snow pack, and the worsening of California’s air quality problems.
Rising temperatures create an adverse impact on human health by increasing heat stress and related deaths, incidence of infectious disease, and risk of asthma, respiratory and other health problems.
California officials are concerned about the potential for a rise in sea levels along the state's 1,100 miles of coastline; and detrimental impacts to agriculture due to increased temperatures, diminished water supply and changes in the abundance and distribution of pests.
But technologies are being developed that can increase fuel efficiency and utilize renewable sources of energy, decreasing the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly in demand in the worldwide marketplace,” said California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) Secretary Allan Lloyd, who will be responsible for implementing the governor's Executive Order.
The CalEPA secretary will report to the governor and the Legislature on progress made, mitigation and adaptation proposals and options for a greenhouse gas emission cap and trade systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the most cost effective manner possible. His first report is due in January 2006.
California’s scientists lead the world in developing the basis for evaluating the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. Many California companies have taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations and to develop products that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"We applaud Governor Schwarzenegger for putting his muscle into protecting California's economy and residents from the greatest environmental threat of the 21st century," said Jason Mark, California director of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The targets are an excellent starting point, and now the heavy lifting of enacting policies to meet them must begin."
As one of the largest economies in the world and the most populous state in the nation, California is the 10th largest carbon emitter in the world. If met on schedule, the governor's targets will lead to greater emission reductions over the next five years than will be achieved in the larger economies of either Britain or France.
"Global warming poses a tremendous risk to California's economy," said Dr. Michael Hanemann, a professor of environmental economics in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of Berkeley's Climate Change Center. "Addressing climate change can yield significant economic rewards for consumers who adopt cost-saving technologies that reduce global warming emissions as well as for the companies who build them."
In April, nearly 500 California scientists with climate expertise urged the governor "to take significantly stronger action to protect our health, economy, and environment." Today's action begins to answer their call to action, the governor's office said.
"California is on the front line of vulnerability to climate change and the forefront of efforts to mitigate it," said Dr. Stephen Schneider a climate scientist from Stanford University. "Most importantly, when California leads, others follow. Let's hope Washington will take note."
San Francisco is hosting the mayors of the world for World Environment Day this year. In addition to an extensive program of lectures, films and other environmental events, the mayors are scheduled to sign a set of Urban Accords that commits them to high environmental standards for their cities.
In recognition that "for the first time in history, the majority of the planet’s population now lives in cities and that continued urbanization will result in one million people moving to cities each week, thus creating a new set of environmental challenges and opportunities," the mayors pledge, among other targets to, "increase the use of renewable energy to meet 10 percent of the city’s peak electric load within seven years."
The Accords establish a policy to achieve zero waste to landfills and incinerators by 2040, and adopt a policy that mandates a green building rating system standard that applies to all new municipal buildings.
Read the Urban Accords online at: http://www.wed2005.org/3.1.php