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Interview


“If another governor asked about climate change, Arnold would say: ‘I’ll send Terry up there. He’ll tell you all about it”


The Terry Tamminen (above) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (right) double act is still going strong with the launch of the R20 project


approval ratings at a soul-destroying 20% – there is no doubt his administration kicked some serious ass on the environmental front. Following an executive order in 2005 for


an 80% reduction in California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (the first such goal in the world), the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) was signed into law in September 2006, establishing a robust, science-based pro- gramme of regulatory and market mechanisms to make it happen. Eight other states have since tried to follow in California‘s progres- sive footsteps.


On Arnie’s watch there was a solar revo- lution (the Million Solar Roofs Initiative), a $3B incentive programme through the state’s utility regulators


(which was subsequently


codified in statute by the Legislature). The initiative aims to install 3,000MW of solar and reduce greenhouse gases by 3M tonnes annu- ally, and has built a job-rich new industry in the state, which is now the third largest user, installer and manufacturer of solar power in the world. The intensive technological ramp- up has also served to markedly bring down the technology’s cost on the global stage. There was a drive to accelerate California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to ensure that by 2010, 20% of energy would hail from wind, solar (PV and thermal; rooftop and utility scale), geothermal, biomass; and other renewable sources, with the figure rising to 33% by 2020. To date, the approach has been replicated in 36 additional US states. In the built environment, energy plummet- ed by 25% (from a baseline of 2003) thanks to a mixture of retrofits, retro-commissioning


20 | Sustainable Business | February 2011


(“tuning up” existing building infrastruc- ture) and new building standards (US Green Building Council LEED Silver or better). Again, the approach has been mimicked, this in 42 other states.


There was plenty of breakthroughs in the transport sector too, including the world’s first Hydrogen Highway Network (a technol- ogy that, Tamminen says, will “probably put battery cars in their grave”) and Low Carbon Fuels Standard.


Old-school conservationists could rejoice too with protection offered for 25M acres of land through the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, 13,000 pristine acres of Hearst Ranch and over 200,000 acres of Tejon Ranch, as well as mil- lions of acres of ocean parks.


Critics at the time accused Schwarzenegger of publicity-seeking political opportun- ism over genuine environmental credo, but Tamminen is having none of it. “Most people looked at his movies, how he blows up stuff, smokes cigars, and how he is a Republican and nobody could imagine he’d care about the environment. But he did,” Tamminen explains. “He has all of his life.” “People ask me: ‘Why’s that’? Particularly when Republicans weren’t getting it. Part of it is that he is European. He has this world view that isn’t just confined to his own politi- cal party.” Having laid the groundwork for AB32, Tamminen left the administration in August 2006 with Schwarzenegger’s bless- ing to “Johnny Appleseed” the template for sub-national government-level green action beyond the borders of the Sunshine State. Even then, he still counselled his former


boss once or twice a week, not to mention pitching in to spread the good word whenever circumstances dictated.


“If another governor or premier called to ask about climate change, Arnold would say: ‘I’ll send Terry up there. He’ll tell you all about it. You’ll be an action hero’ and all those things’,” says Tamminen, again channelling that unmistakable Austrian cadence. The double act is still going strong; just before Schwarzenegger stepped down he launched the R20, a project masterminded by Tamminen to form a coalition of sub-national low-carbon project incubators comprising regional, state and provincial governments, observer nations and corporations. With office space donated by the UN in Geneva, R20 currently counts 106 members, including participation from China in the shape of nine major provinces and eight cities, all of which constitutes around 10% of the world’s economy.


When all memberships are formalised by the middle of the year, Tamminen estimates that figure will rise to 20%.


By all accounts, Schwarzengger appears to continue lending his muscle to the cause. “I think R20 is going to be one of the primary ways of solving this climate crisis, because clearly our international institutions and national ones are not making enough progress,” he notes.


“The UNFCCC process was good as far as it got with Kyoto, but it has run out of steam. The US congress has not acted and that has given China, India and others an excuse not to act. Einstein said the definition of insan-


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