December 2, 2005
Study finds economic gains in greenhouse gas rules
By Bernie Woodall
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California's strict environmental
laws, often derided as a drag on growth, actually saved
consumers and businesses $56 billion through gains in
efficiency since the first major oil price spike in the 1970s,
a Stanford University study released on Friday shows.
The California example is one of many in a study that shows
that it pays to invest in reducing pollution.
"There is a lot of low-hanging fruit for companies and
states that invest in steps to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions," said Walter Reid, consulting Stanford professor and
author of the study, "No Reason to Wait."
The study shows how the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo and
California invested in ways to cut greenhouse gases and that
Sao Paulo would be the 39th largest maker of greenhouse gas
emissions if listed as a nation, and California would be the
20th, the study said. The United States is on top of this
category and accounts for 16 percent of global greenhouse
gases, the study said.
The United States is the leading global contributor of
heat-trapping gases and has ruled out joining any U.N.-led
talks in coming years on ways to rein in rising temperatures,
including the November 28-December 9 U.N. climate conference in
On Monday in Montreal, the study will be presented and
officials from the states of California and Sao Paulo will sign
a pact to reduce greenhouse gases.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set the highest
populated U.S. state's target to reduce greenhouse gases by
2050 to 80 percent of 1990 levels.
For decades companies and states relied on relatively
low-cost energy supplies but with oil and natural gas prices
more than triple what they were in the late 1990s, investment
in renewable energy sources is a no-brainer, Reid said.
"The rules of capitalism are definitely driving companies
to look for efficiency gains within their own industries," Reid
"We cannot afford to continue to debate whether we need to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Mike Wintemute,
spokesman for the California Environmental Protection Agency.
"We need to look at practical measures from capturing methane
in landfills to using biofuel blends."
The study is billed as the first large-scale case study on
the economic impact of reducing greenhouse was pollution, which
was commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
In addition to Reid, staff from the San Paulo Department of
the Environment wrote the 37-page report, which can be found at
www.hewlett.org/publications/noreasontowait.htm and from the
state of California at www.climatechange.ca.gov.