UK, Calif. to strike global warming deal
By Michael R. Blood, Associated Press Writer | July 31, 2006
LONG BEACH, Calif. --British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced an agreement Monday to bypass
the Bush administration and work together to explore ways to fight
The two leaders announced the pact as they met with business leaders
on clean energy and climate issues against the backdrop of a BP oil
tanker at a terminal in the Port of Long Beach.
"We see that there is not great leadership from the federal
government when it comes to protecting the environment,"
Schwarzenegger said. "We know there is global warming, so we should
Addressing business leaders during an earlier panel discussion, Blair
called global warming "long-term, the single biggest issue we face."
The agreement calls for collaboration on research into cleaner-
burning fuels and technologies, and looking into the possibility of
setting up a system whereby polluters could buy and sell the right to
emit greenhouse gases. The idea is to use market forces and market
incentives to curb pollution.
Environmental groups questioned the value of the agreement, calling
it little more than a symbolic gesture.
California is looking to cut carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of coal,
oil and gasoline combustion -- and other heat-trapping gases that
scientists say are warming the planet. President Bush has rejected
the idea of ordering such cuts.
"This is an agreement to share ideas and information. It is not a
treaty," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn. "Right now,
all we are doing is talking about sharing ideas."
"It will be markets, not governments, that will decide which
technologies are chosen in the future. Governments can give clear,
credible, long-term signals to the market which will enable companies
to develop the technology that will result in cleaner technology,
more energy efficient technology," said a Blair spokesman, speaking
on condition of anonymity, in line with government policy.
Kristen Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on
Environmental Quality, said the agreement was "a wonderful
amplification" of talks last year between the president and Blair.
"It's just another step forward," she said. "This is a way to share
ideas, what works and what doesn't work."
For Schwarzenegger, a Republican who is running for a full term in
November, the agreement comes at a time when he has been trying to
distance himself from Bush in this mostly Democratic state.
His aides disputed speculation that the agreement was an attempt to
sidestep the White House. In a conference call with reporters, state
Environmental Secretary Linda Adams said the agency is in "constant
contact" with federal regulators, but added that there was no
discussion with Washington about Monday's agreement.
Craig Noble of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an
environmental group, said the pact had symbolic value, but that "the
time for talk is over." He urged passage of a proposal, pending in
the state Legislature, that would make California the first state to
limit greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources.
"The bottom line is, voluntary is not enough," Noble said.
While partnering with Britain, Schwarzenegger is seeking changes to
the state bill that Democrats say would undermine its goals.
Schwarzenegger has proposed creating a board of agency heads who
would set emission limits after taking into account the economic
effects. Democrats say the independent state Air Resources Board
should oversee the program.
The world's only mandatory carbon dioxide trading program is in
Europe. Created in conjunction with the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997
international treaty that took effect last year, it caps the amount
of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories
in more than two dozen countries.
Companies can trade rights to pollute directly with each other or
through exchanges located around Europe. Canada, one of more than 160
nations that signed Kyoto, plans a similar program.
Although the United States is one of the few industrialized nations
that have not signed the treaty, some Eastern states are developing a
regional cap-and-trade program. And some U.S. companies have
voluntarily agreed to limit their carbon dioxide pollution as part of
a new Chicago-based market.
A main target of the agreement between Britain and California is the
carbon dioxide from cars, trucks and other modes of transportation.
Transportation accounts for an estimated 41 percent of California's
greenhouse gas emissions and 28 percent of Britain's.
Schwarzenegger has called on California to cut its greenhouse gas
emissions to 2000 levels by 2010. California was the 12th-largest
source of greenhouse gases in the world last year, bigger than most
Blair has called on Britain to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 60
percent of its 1990 levels by 2050. Britain also has been looking at
imposing individual limits on carbon pollution. People who accumulate
unused carbon allowances -- for example, by driving less, or
switching to less polluting vehicles -- could sell them to people who
exceed their allowances -- for example by driving more.
Bush has resisted Blair's efforts to make carbon dioxide reduction a
top international priority. After taking office, Bush reversed a 2000
campaign pledge to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, then withdrew
U.S. support from the Kyoto treaty requiring industrialized nations
to cut their greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels.
The United States is responsible for a quarter of the world's global
warming pollution. Bush administration officials argue that requiring
cuts in greenhouse gases would cost the U.S. economy 5 million jobs.
Instead, the administration has poured billions of dollars into
research aimed at slowing the growth of most greenhouse gases while
advocating a global cut on one of them, methane.
Associated Press Writer John Heilprin in Washington contributed to