I plan to use this site to post news, commentary, and analysis of current environment and development issues. Of course, I reserve the right to rant about politics now and then.
It's interesting that Arnold's plan emphasizes the use of "cradle-to-grave" accounting of carbon emmisions. This seems to be focused on the production of ethanol, which traditionally has provided minimal carbon emissions decreases because of the fact that it takes a lot of gas to grow corn and transport it(especially all the way to California). Ethanol is already pretty subsidized, but it seems clear that Arnold's plan is to further subsidize it. It will be interesting to see how the price levels for gas on both sides of the state border will border.As the 5th Biggest Economy in the World, California's plan will have a big effect on other states and the rest of the World.
Wesley, interesting comment on the up-and-coming ethanol sector in the U.S. I agree that people often have an incorrect tendency to equate the term "alternative source of energy" with the term "efficient source of energy." These terms may often overlap, but they are certainly not synonmyous. For instance, just because corn-based ethanol is a cleaner fuel than oil and is not derived from a foreign supplier does mean that is efficient in any sense of the word. First, most scientists agree that corn-based ethanol takes more energy to produce than the amount of energy it ultimately provides. This is the very definition of inefficiency. Second, most economists agree that subsidizing corn production is bad public policy - it costs taxpayers money; creates excess supply which translates into deadweight loss; and drives down prices of corn in countries with a comparative advantage in the agricultural sector. This is a classic example of performing a cost-benefit analysis and then doing the exact opposite of what it suggests (often in the name of special interest politics).
California and Arnold have been very steadfast in the past about going after the petro refiners in the state. I know in the last election there was a proposal to heavily tax these same refiners and collect $4 billion for investment in green technologies(I dont know if it pasted or not). I think Arnold's new plan in emissions reductions is in the hope for further development of more efficent fuels. While at this time ethanol requires a large amount of energy to produce, the proposed reduction will possibly give an opening for alternative fuels. This opening will allow for the possibility of further development of theses fuels to hopefully become more efficent and eventually create large benefits. It may not make sense at this point but Arnold is doing what he has done in the past in giving an opportunity for the development of green technologies in order to allow greater benefits to all society down the road.-Evan
Beyond simply "fuels" California has initiatives that are aiming to reduce their pollution levels across the board in a number of areas. "Another major new law is SB 1368, which ensures that future long-term investments in electricity generation for California come from sources that emit low levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. This bill marks a crucial step forward for global warming solutions in the electricity generation sector, which is the largest and fastest growing source of global warming pollution in the United States. In addition, AB 2021 ensures that all of the state's utilities maximize energy savings from cost-effective energy efficiency investments and contribute proportionately to the state's energy savings targets, while SB 1250 authorizes and guides expenditure of more than $1 billion over the next five years for renewable energy and clean technology research and development." -http://www.nrdc.org/legislation/caleg.aspPart of these initiatives are even being put into action before the law as Californian power companies just signed on to the largest wind powered electricity contract ever.(http://today.reuters.com/news/articlebusiness.aspx?type=ousiv&storyID=2006-12-22T021514Z_01_N21228321_RTRIDST_0_BUSINESSPRO-UTILITIES-EDISONINTL-DC.XML)"California has set a goal that 20 percent of the state's electricity will be from renewable sources -- in addition to hydro power -- by 2010."With such a large economy in California, they have the might to push around the various industries and force them to go clean.
I agree with Wesley that Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan could and should have great impact on the rest of the world and other states. Government initiatives force action to be taken; and I think this nudge can be particularly motivating concerning the environment. While the US has the resources and intelligence to develop sustainable alternatives, we tend to take our time when not required to change. The government necessarily pokes the fire under our developing industries. In effect, the environment’s voice is heard through legislation.
I really like Arnold's interventions to address the current environmental and energy crisis. He seems to be providing the needed political will and leadership to advance the course of the environment. Subsidies on alternative energy sources will provide the right incentive for the development of more efficient alternative fuel sources as well as make these sources competitive with fossil fuel energy sources. The idea of 'cradle-to-grave' will also help to address the issue of efficiency in terms of production and use of the alternative energy sources.I hope other political leaders will emulate his example.Felix
About Mr Arnold's plan becoming a template to enviormental policy, rio de janeiro has been working for years now on improving its air quality, amongst other polutants. Bellow is a small abstract of a research that came out of this effort. I was curious to see what the class' perspective was on the results of the study (more trees on wealthier neighborhoods): http://www.springerlink.com/content/h19rw3540n7881u8/Abstract Social and spatial inequality regarding environmental resources and services is one of most complex issues affecting contemporary urban life. The objective of this research is to study the spatial distribution of trees in public areas in Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This research presents data gathered in ten neighborhoods in Campos. These neighborhoods were split into three distinct groups using wealth levels. Data obtained include the number of trees and private gardens and tree species diversity per neighborhood street. Our results demonstrate that the wealthier neighborhoods have both the highest tree biodiversity and number of trees. In contrast, the poorer neighborhoods present a low biodiversity level and fewer tree species. Our results also showed that age of the neighborhoods was not a factor in explaining the number of trees in public spaces. Socioeconomic and education levels of the population seem to play a more causal on tree quantity and species diversity. This inequality stresses a problem with environmental justice, a characteristic of Brazilian cities intrinsically connected to urban sustainability.Adolfo
First, I am pleased with Arnold's choice to take action and initiate government's role in moving in the green direction. In response to Adolpho's comment, one thing came to mind right away. It seems to me that wealthier people have more time to focus on other issues in life than getting enough food to feed their families. One effect of this could lead to the greater number of trees and gardens in the richer neighborhoods. In making this statement I assume that the people in these neighborhoods are the ones planting and maintaining the horticulture.
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