California has published its first-in-the-nation economy-wide plan to slash carbon emissions -- an historic step that is likely to be emulated by other states, or the federal government.
If successful, each resident would produce, on average, four tons less of carbon dioxide by 2020, according to the Los Angeles Times. If successful, California in 2020 would pollute only as much as it did in 1990 -- an interim step on the road to steeper cuts needed by 2050, scientists say, to stave off the worst consequences of global warming.
The law includes plans to:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger predicted that -- despite concerns about the economy -- the plan should create jobs and wealth, as California businesses innovate to meet the challenge. That's the argument many economists and environmentalists have been making in arguing for aggressive federal laws to increase energy efficiency and tackle global warming.
Energy prices are likely to go up, however, and the California Chamber of Commerce predicted increases of up to 11% for electricity rates. How much unforeseen innovations, coupled with reduced energy demand, reduces the pain of those increases remains to be seen.
Other states regions have taken similar steps to curtail global warming, but none on a scale that California has done. The law will effect a vast swath of the economy, not just electric power producers or certain industries, as is the case with other initiatives.
The law is a particularly positive step now, as the world worries that the economic fallout from the financial crisis could sap energy from the effort to tackle global warming.
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