SAN FRANCISCO - September 27 - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger penned his name on the nation's most ambitious effort to combat global warming at a bill-signing ceremony today on Treasure Island in San Francisco. The law's enactment marks a turning point in international efforts to solve the world's most pressing environmental problem, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Environmental Defense, the environmental groups that sponsored the legislation. It caps a months-long campaign to set the nation's first statewide limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution.
Environmental Defense and NRDC shared the stage with the governor, the law's authors Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), and a host of national and international dignitaries, including New York Governor George Pataki and representatives from Japan and the United Kingdom at bill signing ceremonies in San Francisco and at Pepperdine University in Malibu.
"It makes a world of difference what we do in California," said Sheryl Carter, director of Western energy programs for NRDC. "That's why the world is literally watching as we take this historic step against global warming. But make no mistake about it; we're acting in the interest of every Californian. Every one of us has a stake in protecting our health, drinking water, agricultural crops and coastline from the effects of global warming."
"Score one for humanity," said Tom Graff, California regional director of Environmental Defense. "California's commitment today signals to the nation, and the world, that there is hope in the fight against global warming. We can grow our economy and ensure our children have a future full of clean energy. But more action is needed -- the United States must also cap global warming emissions."
While U.S. cities and regions are increasingly taking action to limit global warming emissions, AB 32 is the first statewide effort in the United States to limit emissions from every major source of global warming pollution. As such, the law goes further than any other U.S. effort and will serve as a national precedent.
AB 32 would limit the state's global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and institute a mandatory emissions reporting system to monitor compliance. The Global Warming Solutions Act will be implemented by the California Air Resources Board, an eleven member body appointed by the governor.
"The Global Warming Solutions Act is exactly what Californians hunger for -- a real solution," said Devra Wang, director of NRDC's California energy program. "We are proud to have worked with California's legislators and the administration to deliver the nation's most ambitious global warming law. Now the real work begins--working with the state to deliver on AB 32's promises."
The Global Warming Solutions Act allows for the use of market mechanisms to provide incentives to businesses to reduce emissions while safeguarding local communities. It is anticipated that California will pioneer many new clean and efficient technologies, much as it has done with the hi-tech and bio-tech industries. As California leads in clean technology solutions, not only will it benefit California's economy, but it could lead to innovative partnerships with other states and nations. Already British Prime Minister Tony Blair has agreed to a climate partnership with California, as have Oregon and Washington. Ten other states and Canada already have adopted California's first global warming law, AB 1493, the clean cars law, which requires all new cars to emit 30 percent less global warming pollution by 2016 beginning with the model year 2009. A University of California, Berkeley, study released on August 16, found that returning California's global warming emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as envisioned by AB 32, can boost the annual Gross State Product (GSP) by $74 billion and create 89,000 new jobs by 2020.
"California is going to benefit from AB 32," said Karen Douglas, California climate director of Environmental Defense. "And we are also establishing a model policy that can be adopted by other states and nations. Today, we unleashed the potential to bring new dollars to California as we create the clean tech future."