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Dr. Alan Lloyd

08 June 2005
Dr. Alan Lloyd

Alan C. Lloyd, Ph.D. was appointed as the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2004. The Climate Group spoke to him shortly after Governor Schwarzenegger's speech on World Environment Day 2005, which outlined new greenhouse gas reduction targets for California.

What is your reaction to the Governor's announcement yesterday and California's new commitment on climate change?

Yesterday's announcement publicly, and for the first time, sets a course for the state on climate change across the board. No government before has called for such bold action. The announcement recognised that we know enough now, that the science tells us it's time we took action. To me, it was a historic moment.

How did California arrive at the target?

The target is the culmination of an extensive process. About a year ago the process for implementation of the Pavley Bill, which aims for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases from our new cars by 2016, was coming to a close ready to bring to the Air Resources Board for adoption. A lot of the background work had been done at that time, and it led us to think about what we should be doing to address the other sectors.

The work had involved a couple of parallel tracks, one a technical analysis of available automotive technology, and the second involving an independent group of scientists, overseen by Union of Concerned Scientists, who looked at the impacts of climate change on the Californian economy, agriculture, water resources, air quality, public health and the coast line.

The then-Secretary of CalEPA Terry Tamminen and Deputy Secretary Ann Baker played critical roles in extending the targets beyond the transportation sector. The new work on a state-wide target asked whether 'Kyoto' targets were reasonable for California, and also what is feasible recognising that California's energy intensity is already lower than the other US states: the US emits 20 tonnes of {CO2} per capita and California about 12 tonnes, which aligns us more closely with Europe.

You had a number partners working on the targets - who were the key players?

Externally, in addition to Union of Concerned Scientists, we had the Tellus Institute working in conjunction with Energy Foundation who sponsored some of that work. Internally we had the Energy Commission, the Air Resources Board and CalEPA working together. Tellus Institute analysed some of the emissions scenarios to give some legitimacy to the proposed cut-backs and also linked up with an independent group that had worked on the Pavley legislation.

The Executive Order S-3-05 signed by the Governor charges you with co-ordination of efforts, and sets the first report-back deadline as January 2006. What happens in the next few months?

Given the short time frame available and given Governor Schwarzenegger's global leadership on the issue, we have to move fast, and that's what we will be doing. What's needed first is a refinement of some of the future emissions scenarios to look in more detail at the effects on our agriculture, public health, water resources, the coast line and economy. Also we will be looking at the measures we have available [to reduce emissions]. We have a broad list, some of which we believe will take effect and others for which the projected impact is yet to be calculated, and we will focus on refining this work.

Is California already on track to meet the shorter term targets or will this require extra effort?

Well, I think it will require extra effort and I think it's prudent to call for extra effort - complacency is a sure path to failure. That's why I'm saying that early on we will be reviewing technologies and shorter-term measures, and encouraging every Californian and every stakeholder to participate in the effort to reduce GHG emissions. We had a very effective Flex Your Power energy conservation campaign during the energy crisis, and the same kind of leadership will be needed from the Governor and the State here. I'm sure we'll have people trying to pick holes, but I think it's up to us to harness some of the best minds in California to help chart the course, not only for 2010 but beyond.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in meeting the targets?

The Schwarzenegger-Pavley greenhouse gas emissions reductions from cars and light duty trucks [approved following the Pavley Bill] are not implemented until 2006, with 2009 being the first year that new cars will need to comply. It will be interesting to see how the current lawsuit [taken out by auto manufacturers against the adoption of the Regulations] plays out, because the Regulations are supposed to become effective next year. If the car companies win the lawsuit, the big challenge will be to keep up the momentum and push ahead with extra effort in all the sectors. Ironically we have Exxon-Mobil now suggesting that greenhouse gases from cars should be reduced to offset increased demand for an increasingly scarce resource - this comment speaks for itself.

There is another tool in the toolbox that we can tweak, however. The Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation is already 'on the books' in California, calling for an increasing number of zero-emission, hybrid and low-emission vehicles. A review of the regulation is coming up in the next year or so, which will assess the need for modifications to the rules in the light of developing technology.

I think one of the challenges for us, though, is to focus on implementing the programme rather than spending a lot of time fending off accusations and losing our energy in distractions. The Climate Group has done a wonderful job in highlighting how you can get 'carbon down, profits up'. To maintain that mindset in California is important and it will require some skill to get the message over.

From the range of policies available, which do you think is the most promising in terms of delivering the reductions required?

Well I think energy conservation is the big one, and efficiency in new buildings and appliances. In the CalEPA building we have done so much on this front that we save an estimated US$600,000 a year on the operating of the building.

How vulnerable is the target and the greenhouse gas reduction effort to ongoing political processes in California?

The Governor has pledged his commitment to work with the legislature in the implementation of greenhouse gas reductions in California. The announcement sets targets. The legislature would like to see them put in legislation as requirements and how that plays out is going to be important. This is a voluntary programme so it is important to send the signal, as The Climate Group panel did yesterday, that it's in our interests to work together. We don't want to scare the companies here from participating. We all have a role - the Governor does, I do, business and the NGOs do. The Climate Group has done a tremendous job in making this issue a seamless thing, something we want to do not only for the climate but also for business.

There was a clear call in the Governor's announcement for international collaboration and input. What form will this take?

Firstly there are the political alliances, recognising that although it is the 6th largest economy in the world, California is still just a state. Secondly there is the need to take the experiences of governments and companies around the world and see how they can be applied to California. I think this is really critical. In fact, interaction between CalEPA and the British Government, who recently set a 60% target on reductions, was very helpful in providing guidance to how targets may be set and accomplished. We can see what works in Europe - we've seen it on the air quality side in reducing diesel particulate emissions. We are working with others on renewables around the globe - we have already signed MOUs with Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, NorthRhine Westphalia in Germany, and Canada. So we have the linkages out there. This is the exciting part because it is a global issue. We're also working with China and India. We have to recognise that while we are limited, the link with other parts of the US and the world is really important.

The "Hydrogen Highway" is never far from the top of the Governor's climate and energy agenda. How big a part is hydrogen going to play in California's future?

If you look at the uncertainty with petroleum supplies and the expected cost from competition from India and China then I think its prudent to pursue alternative technologies, so that's why I'm wholeheartedly in favour of hydrogen as one of the pathways in the short term, and the ultimate pathway to get us there in the longer term.

I'm responsible for implementing the Hydrogen Highway and you'll see me pounding away at it, working very closely with US Department of Energy and other state and local agencies, as well as the private sector in California. Having been involved with hydrogen since the early 1990's, I'm a big believer. As you extrapolate out on decarbonisation of the economy, if hydrogen isn't "it" then I don't know what is. On the other hand I'm a realist - while you can generate it from a variety of sources, you obviously have to have an increasing proportion of renewables, and ultimately all-renewable hydrogen: and there are challenges in terms of cost and storage. But as you move ahead you have to assume these issues will be solved.

We saw at World Environment Day the largest ever concentration of fuel cell vehicles. We believe it is the first time we have had all the car companies involved. Honda in particular has made very deliberate, progressive strides. They have provided leased vehicles to Los Angeles and San Francisco cities, and are expected to lease a vehicle shortly to the first private family. The fact they are now turning over these vehicles to customers shows the confidence they have.

I think we'll see growing numbers; with the Hydrogen Highway we're talking 2,000 vehicles by 2010. While we recognise that there are about two million vehicles sold in California every year, I think we will see by the 2012-15 timeframe that we'll have growing numbers and by 2020 you might see fuel cells reach the full range of cars.

We also have super-clean gasoline cars, alternate fuels including natural gas and biofuels, hybrids and battery electrics. The President has been accused of using hydrogen as a diversionary tactic but I don't buy into that, and I think it has been caught up in the politics. However I'd like to see the Federal Government pushing for greater average fuel economy (CAFE), but I think the President and the Governor should be applauded for their leadership on hydrogen - it's also a technology that can spread through the rest of the world.

The views presented in the Viewpoint Series are not necessarily representative of the views of The Climate Group.

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