The Hummer-driving governator greens up.
Wednesday October 11, 2006
As Maj. Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger dazzled us in Predator as he shot high-tech weapons at trees, detonating the rainforest in a hopeless battle with an invisible foe. The film is an ode to humanity’s contempt for nature.
But these days, California Gov. Schwarzenegger has dropped the commando approach to survive in a hostile environment, and is now a central figure in the international movement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Last week, against the background of the San Francisco bay, Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act. The law is the most ambitious program to date for capping greenhouse-gas emissions in the United States.
At the ceremony, the governor spoke of a need for global cooperation on environmental policy. “And the most exciting part for me,” Schwarzenegger said, “is that this will lead to us leading the way for other states and for other nations. Other countries, like India, China, Brazil and Mexico will join us when they see all the great work we are doing.”
For an event presided over by the government of one state, the signing ceremony returned conspicuously to the theme of multilateralism between nations. Representatives of other environmentally friendly countries were in attendance, and a patch of foreign flags quietly rippled beside the stage.
On the other side of the stage was a projection screen from which British Prime Minister Tony Blair, commended Schwarzenegger’s “remarkable leadership” and said the legislation would “echo right round the rest of the world.” And in a letter read at the ceremony, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wrote, “I would like to commend you, Gov. Schwarzenegger, and [the] people of California for taking a leadership role in protecting the earth’s environment.”
At a separate ceremony in Los Angeles, Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, who recently pledged $3 billion to alternative fuel development, spoke via satellite.
The California Global Warming Solutions Act seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will start by measuring carbon dioxide emissions from a variety of industries. In 2012, mandatory caps would begin. Although the legislation leaves the choice of capping system up to CARB, it suggests a market system similar to the one formed in the European Union to help those countries meet their Kyoto Protocol emissions goals.
As the world’s sixth largest economy and twelfth largest emitter of GHG, California’s decision to begin capping emissions is a significant national and international environmental development–and a curious one.