Today's date:
Fall 2005

Why I Care About Global Warming

Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California.

Sacramento —I recently committed California to lead the worldwide effort to fight global warming. By 2010, we will reduce greenhouse gases to the levels we produced in 2000; by 2020, we will reduce to 1990 levels; and by 2050, California will reduce these pollutants by 80 percent compared to 1990 levels.

But some people ask me, ” Arnold, with all of the pressing problems in California, with your reform agenda and a budget deficit, why would you care about global warming” I say to them that I have 10 million reasons—the children of California, including four of my own.

I also say that the debate is over. We know the science and we see the threat. Most of all, I say that we know the time for action is now. Global warming, and the pollution and burning of fossil fuels that cause it, are threats we see here in California and everywhere around the world.

The science shows that manmade pollution has added more than 50 percent to the natural level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Even if we terminate our contribution to this pollution tomorrow, it will take decades for our planet to heal. In the meantime, our children will see severe impacts to our snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which reduces our annual water supplies; erosion of our valuable coastline; flooding of valuable farmlands in the Central Valley; and a wide variety of health impacts related to changes in seasonal temperatures.

That’s why I am dedicated to reversing this trend with targets that rely on many programs. We will reduce emissions from vehicles starting in 2009 under our landmark greenhouse gas law; from power plants, by obtaining more of our electricity from clean, renewable resources under our “Renewable Portfolio Standard,” which I have committed to implement many years sooner than currently anticipated; and from energy-efficient buildings and homes as required under my Green Buildings Initiative.

My programs for a million solar roofs, the Hydrogen Highway and obtaining more energy from farm waste and other biomass will also significantly reduce greenhouse gases, while simultaneously making us more energy independent. We will also rapidly make our 70,000 state vehicles the cleanest, greenest in the nation.

Our Climate Action Registry will create market-based emission trading programs in cooperation with other regions and with the numerous California companies that have become members of this visionary project. Companies that reduce emissions invariably save money—a winning strategy for both our economic and environmental well-being.

These and other strategies being developed by my Climate Action Team will make sure we hit our short- and long-term targets on schedule. Of course, California cannot reverse climate change by herself. When I met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, he spoke about Japan’s commitment to work with government and private partners to fight global warming together. I look forward to working with him and other world leaders, along with other United States governors and mayors, to coordinate our efforts and maximize the results.

Everyone can also join me in calling on the US federal government to double vehicle fuel economy under the “CAFÉ” program. Everyone can call on his or her electricity providers to generate clean, renewable energy and to demand that coal-fired generation come only from the cleanest new technologies.

If we take this problem seriously and work together to solve it, we can do it.