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Schwarzenegger Maintains Fight Against Climate Change

New America Media, News Report, Mary Ambrose Posted: Oct 01, 2008

San Francisco -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was applauding himself and his staff at a meeting of the Commonwealth Club in the Fairmont Hotel on Friday. Saturday was the second anniversary of the legislation that established his credentials with environmentalists across the country, and around the world, AB32. That groundbreaking law said that California would be the first place in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. And by 2050, reduce them to 80 percent below 1990 levels.

The governor is determined not to give up the limelight on this issue. Hes still pushing for further legislation on climate change and thinks local organization is the way to go. He announced plans for a global climate conference in November that will bypass heads of state. Hes invited governors from across the United States as well as countries all over the world, including China, India, Mexico and Canada, to California to form a broad alliance and create a framework to be used in Poland in December when The United Nations Climate Change Conference meets. Schwarzenegger agrees with Tony Blair whom he quoted as telling him, we have to tackle this problem from every possible angle.

Once again Schwarzenegger is encouraging parallel structures to federal government bodies. He does this a lot.

He insisted on more stringent limits on car emissions than those under the federal government. This brought him criticism for creating a patchwork quilt of regulations, and its landed the state in court against the Environmental Protection Agency. Schwarzenegger says he will fight and fight and fight until the car companies change their standards adding that if the EPA wants one standard, they should adopt Californias standards! He also pointed out that 20 other states have formally adopted Californias standards or are in the process of doing so.

He noted that for the first time carbon trading began in the United States with The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a pact by 10 Northeastern states to combat climate change by capping power plants carbon-dioxide emissions. The RGGI held an auction last week that put carbon dioxide emissions on the block. The buyers purchase the chance to emit one ton of carbon dioxide above what is legally allowed. The sale yielded $38.5 million. Participating states will put that money into renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

Cap and trade on carbon emissions is also an idea with traction in the West. Last week the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) announced it is close to a final design on a regional cap and trade program. WCI includes seven states and four provinces and the governors office says it covers over 70 percent of the Canadian economy and 20 percent of the U.S. economy.

The RGGI coalition is considered a pioneer in this field while Congress is still mulling over various plans on carbon emission capping.

Congress has proven slow to move on climate change and Schwarzenegger noted, We cant always be the ones waiting for others to go first. Rather, he says, the U.S. must be an example to the rest of the world. More than once he used the analogy of how America decided to put a man on the moon, and then did it. And he suggested that setting targets be the first plan of action for the new president.

He dismissed his fellow Republicans in Washington D.C. saying, whoever gets in will be better than this administration and he differs from McCain in dismissing the idea of offshore drilling. He also wants to re-open a discussion into nuclear energy since it emits no greenhouse gas at all and Schwarzenegger hopes new technology can cope with the waste.

But in true Republican fashion, the governor asked people to not wait for the government to deal with climate change. As he pointed out, everything government does takes a long time and the problems are too serious and the opportunities too great, to be delayed.

The most important job for my administration Schwarzenegger said is to inspire people. He suggested that everyone in the audience wash their clothes in cold water or turn off their air conditioning a little early. Or think about their driving, saying it may be called a joke but he has found that he cuts the cost of his vehicle by 10 percent by keeping the correct air pressure in his tires. After all he said, People have much more power than politicians.

Mary Ambrose is an editor at New America Media

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