The ambitious blueprint by the world's eighth-largest economy would cut the state's emissions by 15% from today's level over the next 12 years, bringing them down to 1990 levels.
Approved by the state's Air Resources Board in a unanimous vote, the 134-page plan lays out targets for virtually every sector of the economy, including automobiles, refineries, buildings and landfills. It would require a third of
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been a vigorous advocate of the plan, vowed that it would "unleash the full force of
Businesses, however, are sharply divided.
"This plan is an economic train wreck waiting to happen," James Duran of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce told the board, saying that it would cause financial hardship to minority-owned companies.
But Bob Epstein, a
Investors have poured $2.5 billion into
"This plan is a clear signal to investors to invest in
Schwarzenegger, a sharp critic of President Bush's opposition to climate legislation, said, "When you look at today's depressed economy, green tech is one of the few bright spots out there."
After an aborted attempt last spring, Congress is expected to renew its efforts to craft climate legislation next year. Many of the elements in contention are addressed in
In 18 months of public hearings and workshops, hundreds of people testified and more than 43,000 comments were submitted. More than 250,000 copies of the plan have been viewed or downloaded from the air board's website in the last two months.
The state's blueprint will be implemented over the next two years through industry-specific regulations. Republican legislators have called on Schwarzenegger to delay the plan, citing the dire state of
Fears were also expressed at Thursday's hearing by city and county officials who said the plan's effort to force land-use changes infringes on local powers. Environmentalists want more ambitious strategies to curb the sprawl that has led to a rapid increase in driving, and thus in greenhouse gases.
Worldwide, emissions of planet-warming gases, which are mainly formed by burning fossil fuels, have been growing far more rapidly than scientists had predicted.
Given the state's fast-growing population and sprawling suburban development, its emissions are on track to increase by 30% over 1990 levels by 2020. The new blueprint would slash the state's carbon footprint over the next 12 years by a total of 174 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions -- the equivalent of 4 metric tons for every resident.
Despite the reach of the state's effort, it would barely make a dent in global warming: The state's emissions account for about 1.5% of the world's emissions. Nonetheless, air board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said
More than two dozen states have committed to capping emissions since
A cap-and-trade system has been adopted in
Groups representing low-income residents of polluted urban areas testified that allowing industries to trade in emissions would lead to dirtier plants in their neighborhoods. Under
However, the board assuaged many environmentalists Thursday when it pledged that it would gradually move toward a system to auction 100% of greenhouse gas permits, rather than give the permits away for free, as was initially the case in
Bernadette del Chiaro, an energy analyst for Environment California, predicted the auctions could bring in $1 billion at the outset and up to $340 million per year by 2020.
"This is huge," she said. "Revenue from polluters would be used to transit to a green economy."
Copyright © 2008, The