NEW YORK (Reuters) - Governors from across the United States who bypassed the Bush administration by introducing laws to cut greenhouse emissions are slated to meet this week to broaden their fight against climate change.
At least five governors including Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger from California and Democrats Rod Blagojevich from Illinois and Jon Corzine from New Jersey will meet at Yale University on Friday to discuss uniting the developing markets for trading of credits representing carbon emission reductions.
“The reality is that the states are designing the true U.S. climate policy,” Terry Tamminen, an environment and energy adviser to Schwarzenegger, said about the meeting.
About 28 U.S. states have formed, or are about to create, mandatory greenhouse emission limits in the absence of federal regulations.
The states hope to fight output of planet-warming gases by creating markets for credits representing emissions reductions to encourage investment in power-saving technologies and low-carbon energy sources. They aim to ultimately combine those with international carbon markets.
U.S. President George W. Bush has long opposed mandatory greenhouse gas emission limits. But his climate policy has evolved from skepticism that car engines, power plants and development cause climate change to trying to work with other heavy-emitting countries to set greenhouse gas goals.
The White House said on Tuesday Bush plans to announce on Wednesday an intermediate goal to limit greenhouse emissions, but will not make specific proposals.
Tamminen said even if the federal government moved quickly to regulate greenhouse gases the states would remain the de facto makers of U.S. policy on greenhouse emissions because a federal plan would take years to develop. “We don’t have time to wait,” he said. By many counts, the United States is the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a group of nine states in the U.S. East, was the first U.S. region to regulate the main greenhouse gas — carbon dioxide from power plants. Its carbon market will officially launch next year.
California has led the Western Climate Initiative, a group of states that plan to cut emissions, and late last year Illinois and several other Midwest states became the latest region to set plans to cut emissions.
The International Climate Action Partnership formed late last year by European countries, Canadian provinces and at least 10 U.S. states, hopes to launch an international market in emissions credits.
Dan Esty, the director of Yale’s Center for Environmental
Law and Policy, said the governors will begin to “hone in on ... blending a set of state efforts, some of which are already up and running, with an emerging federal climate system.”
He said the states hope to meet again in the West in the fall or early next year to see how they can work with the federal government on climate.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer and Nobel Laureate Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will also attend this week’s meeting.
Editing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Cynthia Osterman