SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 27, 2006) -- The California Senate Environmental Quality Committee passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) by a margin of 4-2 yesterday. The passage indicates increasing support for limiting greenhouse gas pollution in California. The bill was jointly authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), on April 3, 2006. The bill's passage is a milestone for the global warming legislation as it must be passed in the Senate and Assembly before going to Governor Schwarzenegger.
"The world is taking action on global warming, and yesterday's vote shows that California is ready to be a leader in the US in tackling the most urgent challenge of our generation," said Karen Douglas, director of the California Climate Initiative of Environmental Defense. "Those who voted yes know that by acting now we can fight global warming and benefit the economy."
AB 32 is the first statewide effort to cap greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of California's economy. It would set a firm cap that would ensure that California's greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 25% by the year 2020, putting teeth in Governor Schwarzenegger's goal to reduce California's emissions. AB 32 is another milestone in state efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollutants. On July 22, 2002, Assembly Bill (AB) 1493 was signed into law, requiring California to develop and adopt the nation's first greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles.
"Today's action in California sets the stage for real action to combat global warming," said Ann Notthoff, California Advocacy Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "The sooner we act the sooner we can unleash California's technological prowess and environmental leadership to transform our energy economy, clean our environment and reduce our dependence upon foreign oil."
The scientific community continues to urge immediate action to reduce global warming pollution. Just last week the National Academy of Sciences issued a report confirming a dramatic rise in the world's temperature over the last 400 years. At the same time, the Southwest U.S. is suffering under extreme drought, and there are new scientific reports documenting accelerated melting of major ice sheets that will lead to destructive sea level rise. Evidence continues to build that hurricanes are growing more intense as a result of rising temperatures.
Global warming threatens California's economy, environment and way of life, leading scientists say. According to recent studies published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, rising temperatures will shrink the Sierra snow pack, the largest source of California's drinking and irrigation water, by 30 to 90 percent. In a warmer climate, sea levels are expected to rise and heat waves, smoggy days and wildfires will become more common, while demand for electricity soars during peak summer demand.
"Global warming is not only a scientific problem – but the most important moral issue of our time," said Reverend Sally Bingham of the Episcopal Diocese of California. "It directly affects the survival of future generations."
In June 2005, Gov. Schwarzenegger set targets to reduce global warming emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020 and to reduce emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The Global Warming Solutions Act would put teeth in the governor's Executive Order by establishing a binding statewide limit on global warming emissions. It also would set reporting requirements for industry to ensure that the 2020 targets are achieved.
The emissions reductions can be achieved with strategies such as increasing California's renewable energy supply to 33 percent by 2020; creating new energy efficiency performance standards; cleaning up motor vehicle emissions; and using more 'biofuels' made from agricultural products. Other strategies include improving transit alternatives and bolstering water conservation measures in order to reduce the energy needed for water transport and treatment.
The California Climate Change Center at the University of California at Berkeley found that California could achieve almost half of the governor's 2020 targets while increasing Gross State Product by about $60 billion and creating more than 20,000 new jobs.
"The Global Warming Solutions Act will draw the investment capital, companies and jobs needed to establish California as a leader in the competitive clean technology market," said Bob Epstein, co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and a trustee of NRDC.
More information about The Global Warming Solutions Act and global warming impacts on California is available online at: http://www.solutionsforglobalwarming.com
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.