Arnold signs ground breaking global warming initiative

By Anumita Roychowdhury
Published: Tuesday 31 October 2006

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law, a ground-breaking global-warming initiative that slaps the us 's first-ever cap on greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. This is in sharp contrast to George Bush's inaction on climate change, particularly his refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

California will have to reduce ghg emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. By January 2008, its major GHG producers will begin to report their emissions to the California Air Resources Board (carb). By January 2009, carb will develop a plan for emissions cuts. Actual rules will be adopted by January 2011, to take effect a year later. The first major controls will begin in 2012. This move, the first cap on ghg emissions from utilities, refineries and manufacturing plants in a us state, is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

Alan C Lloyd, who played an important role as chair of the governor's climate action team and as secretary of California e nvironment p rotection a uthority, told Down To Earth, "This is probably the most significant legislation on the environment to emerge from California. These ambitious GHG reduction targets will have impact far beyond the state." Notably, ghg emissions regulations for vehicles, that have preceded this law, are expected to contribute about 40 per cent of the target reductions in ghg emissions. But automobile manufacturers have challenged the emissions regulations for cars in the federal court contending that CARB has overstepped its authority, as this is a de facto fuel economy standard only the federal government can regulate. Meanwhile, California has sued six auto giants charging that GHG emissions from their vehicles have caused damage worth billions.

The auto manufacturers' lawsuit challenging the regulation continues. But as explains Drew Kodjak, executive director of the us -based International Council on Clean Transportation, "The Climate Change Bill has a safeguard provision that says, in effect, if the light duty vehicle GHG rule is overturned in court, the California legislature is committed to establish a new programme that will achieve equal or greater reductions from light duty vehicles."

-- anumita roychowdhury

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