(NYT) Green: 'Take a Lesson,' Schwarznegger Says on Climate



Green: 'Take a Lesson,' Schwarznegger Says on Climate Change
2010-11-23 13:13:23.563 GMT

Nov. 23 (New York Times) -- California is just one of 50
states, but its economy, measured individually, is the
eighth-biggest in the world, larger than that of Spain, Canada,
Brazil, Russia, India or South Korea.
Such economic clout makes California ideally positioned to
take the lead on energy policy and environmental issues like
climate change, even as the United States as a whole has failed
to make much progress on either front.
At least that's the view of California's outgoing governor,
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is touting his state's environmental
credentials in the aftermath of an election that featured the
resounding defeat of a ballot initiative that would have
suspended the state's landmark climate change and renewable
energy law.
"While our federal government is sitting on its hands,
California is moving full speed ahead toward a clean energy
future," Mr. Schwarzenegger, who campaigned vigorously against
the initiative, said in a recent address. "We are creating a
consistent, long-term energy policy, something that has eluded
Washington for decades."
"In fact, Washington should take a lesson from what is
happening right here in California," he added.
California's 2006 law requires that the state reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and generate 33
percent of its energy from renewable energy sources by the same
date. The initiative on this year's ballot would have suspended
the law until unemployment held steady at 5 percent for at least
two years. The state's unemployment rate is currently more than
12 percent.
The initiative to suspend the law was touted as a way to
restore job growth to the beleaguered state but was defeated at
the polls by a 22-point margin.
"The same set of polluting special interests that blocked
international action in Copenhagen and strangled environmental
legislation in Washington descended on California to try to
overturn our landmark legislation," Mr. Schwarzenegger wrote in
an essay published at his official Web site last week. "They
rightly feared that, as the world's eighth-largest economy,
California's size and global presence has the clout to shape
environmental change around the world."
"In the end, Californians rejected their cynical ploy," he
As a Republican, Mr. Schwarzenegger's positions place him
well outside the mainstream of his party, as the vast majority of
nationally elected Republicans expressly oppose mandatory limits
on global warming emissions. A growing number also express doubts
about the validity of climate science or reject outright the
notion that carbon dioxide and other warming emissions represent
a significant environmental threat.
So while congressional Republicans vow to block any attempt
to cap carbon dioxide emissions on a national level, Mr.
Schwarzenegger has urged cities, states and other sub-national
governments to take up the initiative.
"What California's resolve shows is that even if progress on
climate change and clean energy is stymied at the level of global
governance or the nation-state, the sub-nationals can still move
ahead to build a critical mass from below," he wrote.
Last week Mr. Schwarzenegger hosted a meeting in California
for local, regional and provincial government leaders from 90
different countries aimed at developing policies to boost energy
efficiency and reduce fossil fuel dependence.
Some leaders are skeptical about the potential for
subnational governments to lead the way on climate and energy,
however. In an interview with Reuters, Jennifer Granholm, the
outgoing governor of Michigan, said that action on the local and
state level was useful, but that national energy policy was
needed for truly substantial change.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, who addressed Mr.
Schwarzenegger's conference via satellite, shared a similar
"In the end we've got to end up with an agreement that the
world opts into," Mr. Cameron told conference participants via

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-0- Nov/23/2010 13:13 GMT