LOS ANGELES - A day before he was to welcome hundreds of high-ranking officials for a summit on greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger raised the environmental stakes in California.
Schwarzenegger signed an executive order committing the state to obtaining a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. California previously had committed to producing 20 percent of its power from renewables such as wind and solar by 2010.
"I am proposing we set the most aggressive target in the nation for renewable energy," Schwarzenegger said Monday. The state legislature still must pass the goal into law.
The move came on the eve of the Governors' Global Climate Summit, bringing together scientists, environmentalists and government and industry officials for a two-day meeting.
The conference, which begins Tuesday in Beverly Hills, is an attempt by the Republican governor to influence a U.N. gathering in Poland next month. Schwarzenegger has said he wants the summit to inform negotiations over a new global climate treaty, which the U.N. hopes to finish by December 2009.
The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said temperatures worldwide could increase between 4 degrees and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 unless nations reduce their emissions.
Division remains over how much countries should be required to cut, especially as the world grapples with a financial crisis. Italy and several Eastern European nations have argued that the costs of cutting emissions are too much for their industries to bear during the economic downturn.
Schwarzenegger has maintained that forcing utilities and businesses to cut emissions will promote innovation. He says that will boost California's economy by fueling a boom in green technology and saving money on electricity and fuel bills.
The California summit will help local governments and businesses learn how to begin taking steps to combat climate change, said Richard Kinley, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"For me, it is extremely important to give governments the confidence they can go forward and adopt ambitious policies and targets knowing there is a foundation that can deliver the results," Kinley said in an interview with The Associated Press before leaving Germany for the conference.
The lineup includes high-ranking government officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico. The United Nations is sending one of its top climate change officials.
An analysis by The Associated Press revealed that the air travel alone of the 1,400 invitees would discharge more than 2,554 metric tons of carbon dioxide - a so-called carbon footprint equivalent to that produced from 424 cars driven for a year. The governor's office said about half the invitees are expected to attend.
On the Net:
Governors' Global Climate Summit: http://www.governorsglobalclimatesummit.org
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: http://unfccc.int