When Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made good on what he’d been talking about since at least 2002, putting California in the lead in the fight against global warming, he did so in spectacular fashion, as seen in this NWN video. <a href=”“>In a ceremony on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, he signed California’s landmark anti-global warming bill, AB 32, which he negotiated with Democratic legislative leaders, environmentalists and new economy leaders, and the bill’s authors, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and LA Assemblywoman Fran Pavley.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined in by satellite from Manchester, England, where he was attending the Labour Party conference. He spoke to the assembled guests and media on a giant video screen with the San Francisco skyline and Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop. The Japanese consul general was also on hand to read a letter of support from Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. New York Governor George Pataki was there in person and pledged to work with California on climate change.
Schwarzenegger, introduced by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who lauded the former action superstar for his “vision and leadership,” spoke, as did other participants, of California providing a model for the rest of the nation and perhaps the world. The governor, who talked of a new generation of new technologies to be spurred into being by the fight against global warming, spoke with flags from all the world’s nations to his right, a giant video screen to his left, and the skyline of San Francisco directly behind him.
The bill inaugurates “a bold new era of environmental protection here in California that will change the course of history,” the governor said. “This is something we owe our children and that we owe our grandchildren.” AB 32 commits California to rolling back greenhouse gas emissions to the 1990 level, a 25 percent cut, by 2020. By 2050, emissions are to be cut further, by 80 percent. It was opposed by many of Schwarzenegger’s traditional allies in the business community, but supported by an emerging “Green Tech” element, including Silicon Valley figures.
In addition to this bill, as I reported months ago, Schwarzenegger favors requiring that imported electric power meet greenhouse gas emission standards, ie., not come from regular coal-fired plants, and will also sign the bill by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata making that state law.
Tony Blair, linked live via satellite, said Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have “shown brilliant leadership that will excite and inspire a lot of people worldwide.”
Blair went on to discuss the situation in Britain where, as here, many said reducing greenhouse gas emissions would wreck the economy. To the contrary, said Blair, much new economic activity had come about as a result of the environmental effort, with regulation spurring new technological innovation and “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Pataki, a fairly moderate Republican elected and re-elected in blue state New York, praised Schwarzenegger for the move, said he looked forward to working more with California on global warming. New York has already followed California’s lead on the first global warming bill authored by Pavley in 2002, which committed the state to sharply curtail tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases. He pointedly noted that states should not wait for Washington to act.
The California Democrats playing prominent roles in the ceremony, Mayor Newsom, whose city facility at the former manmade island naval base in the middle of San Francisco Bay hosted the governor’s extravaganza, and Speaker Nunez, the AB 32 author, were fulsome in their praise of Schwarzenegger and his leadership. Nunez is a co-chair of the Phil Angelides for Governor campaign and Newsom appeared with Angelides the day before at a small anti-Iraq War rally staged by Angelides’ campaign at San Francisco State.
Clearly this move is a bonanza for Schwarzenegger, making it even more difficult for Angelides to score points against the former Mr. Universe on the environment, which the state treasurer had thought would be one of his major issue areas. It also thoroughly undercuts the Angelides argument that Schwarzenegger is a George W. Bush clone.
Back in 2002, when former Governor Gray Davis had finally decided to sign the first Pavley bill, to cut tailpipe emissions in vehicles, Schwarzenegger was already talking about doing more on global warming should he become governor. Before he ran in the 2003 recall election, he said that he would defend that Pavley bill against the Bush administration and automakers, which he has, and move to take even more dramatic steps on global warming.
He also said he would accelerate California’s renewable energy programs. And he’s done so, enacting the nation’s largest solar energy program, which Angelides opposed, seemingly because it did not provide new opportunities for his union sponsors.
Events of this nature underscore one of the subtexts of much of Schwarzenegger’s operation, that he is a big-time guy for a big-time state. Previous governors, much less gubernatorial candidates, have not been able to pull off events of this magnitude.
Schwarzenegger’s trailing Democratic challenger, Angelides, takes another shot today at an anti-Iraq War rally on a college campus to stir up the Democratic base for his candidacy, this time in his home base of Sacramento. NWN will provide a video documentary of the event.