California, U.K. Enter Global Warming Pact California and Great Britain agree to become partners in the fight against global warming. The deal was sealed at the port of Long Beach, where British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to share clean-air technology and research.
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California, U.K. Enter Global Warming Pact

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California, U.K. Enter Global Warming Pact

California, U.K. Enter Global Warming Pact

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

California and the United Kingdom today agreed to become partners in the fight against global warming. The deal was sealed at the Port of Long Beach. That's where British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to share clean air technology and research. It was the latest event in the prime minister's ongoing tour of California.

NPR's Ina Jaffe joins us with more now from Long Beach. And Ina, set the scene for us, please. Why were the prime minister and the governor in Long Beach to talk about global warming?

INA JAFFE reporting:

Well, the setting was really rather dramatic. There was a huge oil tanker behind them owned by BP, formerly known as British Petroleum. And this particular tanker has been praised for having some very environmentally friendly policies that have reduced greenhouse gas emissions, so this is where they met. This was the backdrop.

And before they addressed the media, they met with CEOs of several large companies - DuPont, Pacific Gas and Electric, Virgin Atlantic and so on - and they discussed what those companies are doing and want to do to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.

BLOCK: So partners in the fight against global warming. What does that mean?

JAFFE: It's a little bit hard to say right now, Melissa. It seems more on the level of hopes and plans than it does on any specific reality. They talk about exchanging information on technology and on business incentives for companies to have greener practices. It's all very much still in the future. They do hope to have some sort of market based system eventually that will encourage companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

BLOCK: Ina, there's an odd bit of asymmetry here. You've got the British prime minister reaching a deal with the governor of California. How did that come about?

JAFFE: Well, the governor likes to say that California is like a nation, with its six or seventh largest economy in the world. But the fact of the matter is that the White House still thinks the jury is out on global warming and that this country did not sign the Kyoto Accords. And so California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's really emphasizing his green credentials as he runs for reelection, got together with Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been a leader in Europe on this particular issue, and they decided to just go their own way on this.

The governor was asked about this quite pointedly and he said that it's not necessary for him to agree with the White House on everything and that he disagrees with them on the issue of global warming. He thinks there is no debate necessary, that the debate has been settled. And he also disagrees with them, he mentioned, on stem cell research.

BLOCK: This weekend, Tony Blair was in Northern California. What was he doing there?

JAFFE: One of the things he was doing, and some observers of him in Britain think the most important thing he was doing, was attending a meeting of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. It's a big annual gathering that they have. It was in Pebble Beach. And Rupert Murdoch still owns some of the widely read newspapers in Britain and while Tony Blair may not be running for prime minister again, the Labour Party certainly isn't going away. And some observers of Mr. Blair think it's very important for him to still carry favor with Rupert Murdoch.

BLOCK: And today, Long Beach, and where does he go next?

JAFFE: Tomorrow he delivers what is being billed as a major public policy address at the World Affairs Counsel in downtown Los Angeles. It's a hot ticket. At $80 per, it's a sell out.

BLOCK: NPR's Ina Jaffe in Long Beach, California. Ina, thanks very much.

JAFFE: You're welcome, Melissa.

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