The most significant move on the international stage in the past month has been Schwarzenegger's move to introduce CO2 reductions for major industries such as utility plants, refineries and cement kilns to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020. [Guardian] (I would have preferred to use an LA Times link but sadly it's a registration site)
How "real" is this move?
The move is real, up to a point. 25% on industry is much more significant than any other US state has implemented, and in the US political scene is certainly an act of bravery. Kyoto Mk.1 only requires 4-6% on 1990 levels (lower emissions then) of cuts by 2012 (but of a whole country's emissions excluding international air travel), so it's greater than even its international obligations if the US did ratify Kyoto. It's in line with the outdated 2001 IPCC report requirements of 60% reductions by 2050, and this is still the benchmark for international agreements.
The main problem is that it's not enough to stop runaway climate change, not by a long shot. We need to have made significant reductions within the next decade. We know far more today than we did in 2001, and it's now clear today that we need much deeper targets, 90% reductions by either 2030 (Climate Crisis) or 2050 (Tyndall Centre) to balance the climate and prevent runaway climate change, and a large proportion of that made within the next ten years or it's too late. The public version of the next IPCC report is due out next year, and will have a revised target.
In addition, other limitations are that it only covers industry, not California's other sectors, and whatever carbon trading scheme they set up could severely reduce its effectiveness.
However, how much more can one state be expected to do without federal support, even one that by itself produces a massive 12% of the world's greenhouse gases?
So yes, a move to be welcomed certainly, but as a lever for further deeper cuts.
The Bush "u-turn"
Some press are reporting on a potential upcoming "Bush u-turn" in response to growing overwhelming pressure on climate change. Bush is working so hard on every level to de-rail even the recognition of climate change by most agencies, and already has known the science for years but as far as I can tell he just doesn't care. Therefore it is almost certainly limited to a change of PR to combat the likes of Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and the Californian move above. So, greenwash filters on extra strength for the next week or two.
George Monbiot's new book "Heat"...
...detailing exactly what the world needs to do to hit 90% by 2030 is due out next month. It's always interesting to see the difference between US and UK publicity. Here's the serene UK cover and the slightly more..errr..apocalypic US cover. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this.