In September of 2008, seven governors of western states and four Canadian provincial premiers established the Western Climate Initiative, with the goal to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020.
Now, a business group has developed a study (PDF) harshly critical of the initiative. The Western Business Roundtable says the initiative would “prolong the economic recession, weaken already overburdened Western power grids and deliver a temperature ‘benefit’ of only one ten-thousandth of a degree Celsius even after a century of operation.”
It’s unclear from its Website who’s behind the WBR – its membership roll isn’t on the site. On Huffington Post, Kevin Grandia writes that “The Western Business Roundtable is run by energy lobbyists with a history of using astroturf organizations as a means of advancing their client’s interests.”
Elected western leaders, including California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, proclaimed the initiative a model for national global warming legislation. Indeed, it was formed after looking at similar programs in Japan and Europe, according to a Los Angeles Times article.
Michael Gibbs, assistant secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, responded to authors of the roundtable report, saying they “misunderstood the design of the program. . . . Using flawed assumptions, they have drawn erroneous conclusions, particularly about the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
“The Western Business Roundtable’s report misreads the Western Climate Initiative and ignores the West’s potential to drive job growth and economic opportunity with renewable energy and energy efficiency,” Ned Farquhar, Western Energy Expert for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement.
Numerous nongovernmental organizations backed the basic premise of the climate initiative when it was being formulated.