Even the long-criticized White House has come to agree that nationally and internationally “climate change must be one of the drivers of energy policy at every level,” California’s chief regulator, Michael Peevey, told a receptive audience last Wednesday in San Francisco before the Business Council for Sustainable Energy’s 2007 conference.

Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, quoted President Bush from a speech he gave the end of last month as putting climate change and energy security on the same page. The president said the United States should “leave debates of the past behind and reach a consensus” as part of an international meeting among the major economies of the world, according to Peevey.

“I find this now to be the mindset in more and more state capitals across the country,” Peevey said. “When I relate the California experience and perspective that climate change is energy policy at events like this, I seem to be preaching to a rapidly growing ‘choir’ of policy and business leaders in the same space.”

Underpinning three drivers on climate change is the broad need for market-based solutions — not exclusively — as they will play “an important role,” according to Peevey. Most importantly, they will help assure “least-cost” approaches to the implementation, which is enormously time-consuming and complex. In California and other states, the three fundamentals are:

Peevey said California policymakers do not see the state’s economy as “threatened” by potential climate change responses. To the contrary, many of them are viewed as economic drivers.

While repeating the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, Peevey said California’s new laws (principally AB 32) assume that the state will have a head start on cutting GHG emissions through aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy program goals that are the most ambitious in the nation.

Rather than waiting for the eventual implementation of a statewide GHG emission limit and impending national legislation, through the existing programs California can “immediately enjoy the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Peevey said.

With an audience of business, government and energy-sector representatives from throughout the West, Peevey ended his remarks with more quotes from Bush, who he said had been a “laggard” on the global climate change issue, but now “has it right.” He also warned that society doesn’t have a lot of time at this point to “get it right.”

“Massive, multi-sector action is urgently needed — here in California, and everywhere.”

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