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. Britain And California To Cooperate On Climate Change And Clean Energy

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (2nd-L) stands with George Schultz (L), former US Secretary of State and his wife Charlotte (2nd R) and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at the Schultz's home 29 July, 2006 in San Francisco, California. Photo courtesy of Kimberly White and AFP.
by Phil Hazlewood
San Francisco (AFP) July 31, 2006
Britain and California will work more closely to tackle the environmental and economic consequences of climate change, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger were to announce Monday.

Blair, in California to promote British business interests, is due to meet together Schwarzenegger and captains of British industry like BP's chief executive John Browne and Virgin boss Richard Branson at a conference on the subject in Los Angeles.

But the prime minister's official spokesman was immediately forced to counter suggestions that Britain's co-operation with California was a way of circumventing potential federal objections to a partnership on climate change issues between London and the state of California.

Instead, he said that US President's George W. Bush's concerns on energy security were similar to arguments for greater energy efficiency and required the same solution: clean energy technologies.

The mission statement of the collaboration -- signed by both leaders -- states that Britain and California will "commit to urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote low carbon technologies".

"California and the UK recognise the linkages between climate change, energy security, human health and robust economic growth," it adds. "Working together, California and the UK commit to build upon current efforts, share experiences, find new solutions and work to educate the public on the need for aggressive action to address climate change and promote energy diversity."

It is envisaged the partnership would look at a possible emissions trading scheme similar to the European Union's to push energy suppliers into using "greener", renewable sources like wind and tidal power.

The involvement of business and industry was key, Britain and California said, to ensure new energy facilities use cleaner, more efficient technologies.

Britain said there was a "short window of opportunity" to deliver these, citing International Energy Agency estimates that 17 trillion dollars will be invested in energy between now and 2030.

"These facilities will have a lifetime of around 25 years. If the wrong technologies are chosen, the world will be locked into a high-carbon energy-insecure future," it said in a statement.

Blair met Schwarzenegger Sunday at a meeting for senior executives of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire and talked of the need to work closely with energy-hungry emerging economies like China and India, Blair's spokesman said.

"At this event (in Los Angeles) there will be companies that have an enormous global reach and it will be markets, not governments, that decide which technologies are chosen in the future," he added.

"Governments can send clear, credible and long-term signals to the market which will enable companies to develop the technologies that will result in cleaner, more energy efficient technology."

On tackling climate change, Britain aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 while Schwarzenegger has called for a reduction in emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2020.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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