Blair, Schwarzenegger say California could be climate change model for the world


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Tony Blair for tackling climate change and said his own state could show the U.S. government that it can address environmental issues without damaging the economy.

Schwarzenegger, who traveled to London on the outgoing prime minister's last full day in office today, said that during a decade in power Blair has "proven to the world that you can do both ... protect the Earth and protect the economy."

Last July, Blair traveled to California so that Britain and California could form a partnership to address global warming, bypassing the Bush administration to explore ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions and promote clean-burning fuels.

Schwarzenegger also signed legislation last year that imposed America's first statewide cap on greenhouse gases, putting California at odds again with President Bush, who has resisted global agreements to make emission reductions mandatory.

Schwarzenegger said that California's moves could be an example for the federal government.

"It's not us vs. Washington," Schwarzenegger said. "We can show leadership."

Blair said a declaration on climate change agreed to by the Group of Eight industrialized nations earlier this month was a major step forward for the U.S.

"For the first time at the G-8 a few weeks ago we have an agreement on the basic principles for a new global deal on climate change," Blair said.

Many people were surprised when Bush was persuaded to join the other G-8 leaders in calling for global emissions reductions and citing a goal of a 50-percent cut by 2050. European leaders at the summit also pushed for mandatory cuts, but Bush resisted.

Blair said California's efforts to fight global warming had helped influence Bush's stance.

"The fact that the state of California was making such a determined effort and setting out a new direction on climate change &

I think this played enormous part," Blair said. "Surely this exposed the president of the country to what its people were saying."

Blair and Schwarzenegger also said there is an urgent need to replace the Kyoto Treaty, which expires in 2012 and which has been rejected by the U.S.

They said the new international agreement must substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be signed by big emitters such as the U.S., China and India.


Associated Press Writer David Stringer contributed to this article.

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