Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday slammed President Donald Trump’s retreat from the world climate stage and challenged fellow Republicans to accept the science that spurred him to push cap-and-trade legislation.
Schwarzenegger held up the bipartisan legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Treasure Island as a powerful signal to Washington that the United States has not pulled back from its environmental commitments, despite Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord.
“America did not drop out of the Paris agreement. America is fully in the Paris agreement,” Schwarzenegger said. “The states and the cities in America, the private sector, the academic sector, the scientists – everyone is still in the Paris agreement. There’s only one man that dropped out. But America did not drop out.”
Eleven years ago Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32, setting in motion the cap-and-trade carbon auction system that Brown, legislative Democrats and eight Republicans labored last week to extend for another decade. In 2006, Schwarzenegger won passage of the program with just one GOP vote.
Schwarzenegger said despite fears from within the Republican Party that the state would hemorrhage jobs and the economy would sputter, neither threat has materialized and the state’s business climate has only improved.
“Don’t those conservative Republicans get the message? And can’t they just think about it for a second and say, ‘maybe we should stop lying to the people.’ Stop lying to the people. Stop it,” he said.
He referred to Brown as a skilled politician and “a man that is determined (and) has great vision.”
“I think this is a very important message for Washington – where both of the parties cannot work together – to hopefully learn something from this, because all great things happen when both parties work together,” he added.
Cap and trade requires polluters to obtain permits for the greenhouse gases they emit. Emissions are capped, and companies can trade for more capacity through a state-run auction or on the private market. The proceeds go to programs meant to reduce emissions.
Brown pushed for the program to help meet the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets – 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
On Tuesday, he again warned about the perils of inaction and credited a range of industries for their involvement in the climate package, from representatives for oil, agriculture, food processing, and environmentalists.
“Some people say, ‘Oh my God, we don’t like those people,’ ” Brown said, referring to activists who criticized his dealmaking with industry. “Let’s face it: This is California. Our industry, our wealth, our whole well-being is the product of all these different individuals and companies and organizations.”
He touted Schwarzenegger’s leadership on the issue as “pretty amazing, as a Republican (with a) Democratic Legislature.”
“We have Republicans all over the country, (but) only one signed into law a global solutions act that had this cap-and-trade measure (as) part of it. ... This is the only law that exists.”