Reuters News Service, Aug. 23, 2007
"Our collective commitment will build a successful regional system to be linked with other efforts across the nation and eventually the world," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
The Western Climate Initiative, led by Schwarzenegger, seeks to slash greenhouse emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Mandatory cuts are at odds with the voluntary approach favored by his Schwarzenegger's fellow Republican Bush.
Schwarzenegger signed a landmark law last year mandating
"We also feel the federal government needs to step up and take action and today's action sends, I think, another strong signal to Washington," Linda Adams, California's secretary for Environmental Protection, told reporters. "In the absence of federal action, states and provinces are not waiting, they are in fact leading the way.
The White House this month announced a meeting of the biggest greenhouse gas-emitting countries on September 27-28 in
Scientists say high levels of heat-trapping emissions, such as carbon dioxide, will lead to catastrophic storms, droughts and floods as temperatures rise and glaciers melt.
The group of six Western states and two provinces also agreed to design a market-based mechanism, such as a cap-and-trade program, by the end of August 2008 to help reach the goal.
The pact's goal is modest compared to reductions of 80 percent by 2050 that two states --
Environmentalists welcomed the announcement although some said the targets were too lenient.
"These targets are barely consistent with what needs to be done," said John Coequyt, energy policy analyst with Greenpeace in
The Western pact, along with a U.S. East Coast emissions agreement between 10 states, may pressure the U.S. Congress to pass laws regulating heat-trapping gases, he said.
But he cautioned that the modest 2020 goal could make it "heavy lifting" for advocates to push for agreement on deeper emissions cuts in the future.
The Western pact does not include
"This was a big concern in
"A regional cap...should ensure that all businesses in the region will operate on a level playing field," said Christopher Busch, climate economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "A regional cap is a clear indication that the future for business is in cutting pollution, not escaping regulation."
States in the U.S. East formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative pact starting in 2003. The group of 10 states seeks to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants starting in 2009.