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Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to London to visit Prime Minister Tony Blair this Tuesday on his last full day in office. The California governor praised Blair for having “proven to the world that you can do both… protect the Earth and protect the economy” during his time in office.

Blair had visited Schwarzenegger in late July of last year at a roundtable hosted by The Climate Group where they signed a groundbreaking agreement to form a partnership between California and the U.K. to aggressively address climate change and promote energy diversity.

That partnership specifically committed California and the United Kingdom to:

  • evaluate and implement market-based mechanisms that spur innovation
  • share results on ongoing and emerging studies to deepen understanding of the economics of climate change
  • collaborate on technology research for clean energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies, as well as efforts to reduce emissions from the transportation sector including California’s emission standards and hydrogen highway and Britain’s renewable fuel standards and clean coal technologies.
  • enhance coordination between their scientific communities.

Schwarzenegger claimed “international partnerships are needed in the fight against global warming and California has a responsibility and a profound role to play to protect not only our environment, but to be a world leader on this issue as well”. He had further stated that “California will not wait for our federal government to take strong action on global warming”.

Schwarzenegger also signed legislation last year creating the the nation’s first statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. California is the 12th biggest emitter of carbons in the world, despite leading the nation in energy efficiency standards and taking a lead role in protecting its environment.

Schwarzenegger says “It’s not us vs. Washington… We can show leadership.” and hopes his state’s moves will be an example for the federal government demonstrating that it can address environmental issues without damaging the economy.

A few weeks ago, at the G-8 (Group of Eight [industrialized nations]) a declaration on climate change was agreed upon outlining the basic principles for a new global deal on climate change. This represents a major step for the U.S. The G-8 is calling for global emissions reductions and has set a goal of 2050 for a 50% reduction, although no mandatory cuts have been agreed upon to date.

Blair credits Schwarzenegger with influencing President Bush’s decision to join in the declaration:
“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.”

Both Blair and Schwarzenegger point to an urgent need to replace the Kyoto Treaty, which expires in 2012 and which the U.S. had refused to sign, with a new international agreement which they say must significantly reduce emissions and be signed by the nations with the biggest emissions including China, the U.S., and India.

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This Tuesday (June 19, 2007) Google announced that it awarded $1 million in grants and will be inviting applicants to apply for $10 million in funds to help develop plug-in type hybrid vehicles that get at least 70-100mpg. The grants are part of the RechargeIT Initiative being run by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org.

The project aims to impact climate change (one of Google.org’s three primary goals) by aiding the development of hybrid vehicles which would reduce our dependency on oil, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and probably ultimately reduce consumers’ costs.

Google is seeking to accelerate not only the adoption of hybrid cars, but also the development and deployment of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies, which would help to stabilize the power grid. Basically, as such cars begin to use renewable sources of energy for power generation (such as solar energy), they will be able to sell back to power companies any excess electricity they produce, thus making the grid cleaner. Google is already implementing a solar program for its fleet of hybrids and planning to use it as a demonstration of the efficiency of such technology. Read more…

Two-thirds of global emissions come from energy consumption, therefore addressing the climate crisis requires radical changes in energy production. In the future, through V2G technology, fossil fuel consumption by vehicles and power plants may be significantly reduced or eliminated altogether. Such technology may solve the “problem” of, or significantly reduce the costs involved in, converting power plants to greener technologies. Read more…

Google will make a formal request for proposals (RFP) on their website later this summer for the $10 million worth of awards “for investment opportunities in companies and projects accelerating the commercialization of alternative transportation that reduces vehicle fossil fuel use and climate emissions”.

To see a list of recipients of the $1 million dollars in grants, go to http://www.google.org/recharge/partners.html.