Calif. Passes Global Warming Measure

Published October 1, 2006

After more than a year of controversy and debate, the California legislature on August 31 approved Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill passed both houses of the legislature after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) voiced his support.

Cut By a Quarter

A.B. 32 mandates a 25 percent cut in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In so doing, the bill duplicates a portion of Schwarzenegger’s June 1 executive order calling for emission reductions to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The legislation requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to enact regulations to require reporting of emissions from significant sources of greenhouse gases. CARB has discretion to allow cap-and-trade market mechanisms to achieve the emission reductions.

Schwarzenegger said a key to his support was the inclusion of language enabling the governor to call a one-year moratorium on the bill’s requirements if unforeseen circumstances arise, such as a significant negative impact on the state’s economy.

“Throughout the negotiations, my primary concern was that the legislature passed a bill that provided the flexibility to address unforeseen circumstances. A.B. 32 will ensure that the state can make adjustments throughout its implementation,” Schwarzenegger said.

“We can now move forward with developing a market-based system that makes California a world leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions,” Schwarzenegger added.

“It has taken a generation to understand that global warming is a real threat to people and our economy,” said Assembly Speaker and bill co-author Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles). “It is now up to our generation to work to solve this crisis.”

Analysts Stress Costs

Some prominent analysts predicted the bill would hurt California’s economy badly.

“While its actions are being lauded as a step into the future, California is actually a late entry into the already failed game of energy rationing,” observed Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“Europe, Japan, and Canada are all failing spectacularly to meet their emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, despite years of breathless cheerleading for cap-and-trade mechanisms,” Ebell observed. “What California has done today is to decide to become a Third World economy.”

“California’s ambitious plan to curb global warming will be costly to businesses and consumers, experts said Thursday,” reported the Los Angeles Times. Moreover, “its effect on the climate could be negligible unless other states and nations follow.

“Experts stressed that California could do little if anything to curb climate change on its own because of the global nature of the problem,” the Times noted.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.