Governor Schwarzenegger Takes On Global Warming

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an Executive Order (EO) on June 1st to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the State of California and to direct state agencies to develop plans to implement the order by January 1, 2006.

The Governor's commitment to reducing carbon emissions adds to the increasing momentum being created by corporate leaders, as well as governmental bodies from local, state and federal levels around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These actions are in response to the growing body of scientific evidence that suggest that current rates of greenhouse gas emissions will rise dramatically, increase global temperatures and cause widespread economic hardship and environmental damage around the world.

"Governor Schwarzenegger's speech today could be this generation's 'we will put a man on the moon' commitment that inspires one of the world's top economies to take the lead in developing innovative solutions to our most serious environmental challenge — global climate change," said Thomas Graff, California regional director of Environmental Defense. "Just as President Kennedy's speech inspired our nation to be the first to set foot on the moon, let's hope that the Governor's speech sets us all on a course to prevent the catastrophic heating of our planet."

The Governor's EO establishes targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and to 1990 levels by 2020. It also sets a long term target for reducing California emissions to 80% below current levels by 2050.

The California emission targets are comparable to those pursued at the national and international level. Last week the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) to cut national greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2010. And in February of this year the Kyoto protocol entered into force, with 141 nations committed to the goal of cutting global greenhouse emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

"The Governor has opened the door to a whole new future for the California economy," said Kate Larsen a policy analyst with Environmental Defense. "Today's announcement will mean new technology, new markets and new innovations that will not only ensure a healthier environment, but will help create new economic opportunities for California businesses."

Graff added: "This is a great start, but we're far from the home stretch. The Governor and legislative leaders such as Assemblywoman Fran Pavley and Senator Sheila Kuehl should work together on a bipartisan basis to assure that there is no backsliding in meeting these vitally important objectives, and that the targets are met efficiently and fairly, using the cap and trade mechanisms perfected in the control of acid rain in the east and Midwest."

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