SGA Press

California to be the first state in the U.S. to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags


After a 6-year battle, millions of dollars spent in opposition by the chemical and plastics industry, and over 121 local plastic bag bans enacted, California legislators “choose to reuse.”


Sacramento California (August 28, 2014)—Marking the conclusion of a contentious legislative and grassroots campaign effort led since 2008 by nonprofit Seventh Generation Advisors, Senate Bill 270, a state bill to ban single-use plastic bags has cleared the Assembly and Senate. Seventh Generation Advisors is a nonprofit organization working to make a sustainable world seven generations into the future, and has spearheaded the Clean Seas Coalition, a growing group of environmentalists, scientists, California lawmakers, students, and community leaders seeking to reduce sources of plastic pollution. The bill would be effective beginning July 1, 2015 and covers grocery and convenience stores, and bans single-use plastic bags, and places a minimum ten cent fee on paper bags. Supporters expect the bill will clear the Governor’s office.


“With today’s Assembly vote, California is the first state in the U.S. to ban the most ubiquitous consumer item on the planet, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change. We thank CA Senators Padilla, de Leon and Lara for their leadership. We also thank Congressional representatives John Garamendi and Julia Brownley, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who advocated for this bill during their time in state office,” says Leslie Tamminen of Seventh Generation Advisors, and Director of the Clean Seas Coalition.


Terry Tamminen, Former Cabinet Secretary and Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency says: “Data from the over 121 local plastic bag bans, like Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, San Jose and San Mateo has proven that bans are effective at reducing litter and changing consumer attitudes, and have refuted industry’s claims of apocalyptic impacts on jobs and poor communities. A state plastic bag ban saves taxpayers the huge amount of money spent on litter cleanup, and protect the environment.”




March 2014

The Planning Report

Terry Tamminen's R20 Regions of Climate Action: Global Policy Goals and Initiatives

September  2013

Orange County Register - September 28, 2013

Commentary: Low-Carbon Cavalry, Overcoming the political, ideological debate with smart money


WebWire -- September 24, 2013
AltCar Expo Focuses on Current and Future of "Green Fleet" Development and Management

June  2013

Los Angeles Times -- June 18, 2013
L.A. City Council OKs ban on plastic grocery and carryout bags

PDF -- June 18, 2013
L.A. City Council Moves Toward Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags

The Telegraph -- June 13, 2013
Terminate doubts and be a climate action hero

Santa Monica Patch -- June 5, 2013
LA Waterkeeper Celebrates 20 Years

April  2013

G1 Rio de Janeiro -- April 25, 2013
No Rio, Schwarzenegger elogia Brasil e diz nao querer 'tirar proveito' do pais

December 2012

National Journal -- December 30, 2012
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Terminator, Body-Builder, and Global Leader on Climate Change

California Current -- December 7, 2012
Profiting from Climate Change 

November 2012

Future Cleantech Forum -- November 27, 2012
Terry Tamminen's VIP Opening Speech

San Antonio Express -- November 27, 2012
Total Energy Conference aims to live up to its name 

SF Gate -- November 10, 2012
State a pioneer of cap and trade

September 2012

Stories of a World that Just Might Work -- September 2, 2012
Q&A between Terrence McNally and Terry Tamminen – Cracking the Carbon Code

August 2012

Pacific Standard Magazine-- August 27, 2012
The Third Act: Professor Schwarzenegger

July 2012

Christian Science Monitor -- July 11, 2012
Schwarzenegger still a man of (environmental) action

May 2012

The Washington Post -- May 31, 2012
LA's move to ban plastic grocery bags could mark beginning of end for a ubiquitous container

The Hill -- May 23, 2012
A federation of sovereign realms: Arnold Schwarzenegger starts the world again

KCET -- May 21, 2012
L.A.'s Plastic and Paper Bag Ban is Built on Past Mistakes

April 2012

Stratford Star -- April 23, 2012
Malloy proclaims April 23, 2012, Terry Backer Day

February 2012

12th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit -- February 2, 2012
Dialogue with Leaders of States and Provinces, moderated by Terry Tamminen

The Times of India -- February 3, 2012
Terminator on green mission

Deccan Herald -- February 3, 2012
Arnold in 'save climate' mode

The Times of India -- February 3, 2012
Tarun Gogoi takes green pledge at development summit

January 2012 -- January 2012
Sete Perguntas para Terry Tamminen (original)

Seven Questions for Terry Tamminen (English translation)

Global Cool Cities Alliance -- January, 2012
Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements Toolkit

December 2011

Christian Science Monitor -- December 13, 2011
Clean tech: more down to earth

The Global Journal -- December 6, 2011
A New Obsession

November 2011

Los Angeles Times -- November 9, 2011
State gets mixed reviews on solar power

October 2011

Climate News Roundup -- October 24, 2011

The Economist -- October 27, 2011
Clean Energy in California: On Its Own Sunny Path

Climate News Roundup -- October 17, 2011

Climate News Rounup -- October 10, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- October 3, 2011

September 2011

Climate News Roundup -- September 26, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- September 19, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- September 12, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- September 6, 2011

August 2011

eJournal USA -- August 31, 2011
California: Changing the Game on Climate

Climate News Roundup -- August 29, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- August 22, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- August 15, 2011

USC | Law -- Aug 9, 2011
Anti-Trash Tactician

Climate News Roundup -- August 6, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- August 1, 2011

July 2011

CNN's Prism -- July 28, 2011
Zayed Future Energy Prize

Climate News Roundup -- July 5, 2011

June 2011

Climate News Roundup -- June 27, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- June 20, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- June 13, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- June 6, 2011

May 2011

Climate News Roundup -- May 31, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- May 23, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- May 17, 2011

The Global Journal -- May and June 2011
The R20, More GAS Than the G20

Climate News Roundup -- May 9, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- May 2, 2011

The Paramus Post -- May 5, 2011
Bargain Priced Gas

April 2011

Climate News Roundup -- April 25, 2011

1 Thing Sacramento -- April 19, 2011
Being Economically Green (click here for direct link to video)

Climate News Roundup -- April 18, 2011

Enviance -- April 22, 2011
America's Secret Economic Weapon

The Wall Street Journal -- April 21, 2011
The Clean Air Act Keeps Us Healthy

Sacramento Press -- April 21, 2011
'Green Paths to Economic Recovery' in Sacramento

Climate News Roundup -- April 11, 2011

Electric Politics -- April 1, 2011
EP Podcast: Tell Me About the Future

March 2011

Climate News Roundup -- March 28, 2011

Green Technology News -- March 25, 2011
California's Leadership in the Global Green Economy: A Conversation With Terry Tamminen

Time Magazine -- March 28, 2011
Got Yttrium?

Climate News Roundup -- March 21, 2011

SF Gate -- March 17, 2011
Tsunamis and California's Uneasy Relationship With the Ocean

Climate News Roundup -- March 14, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- March 7, 2011

Enviance Webinar -- March 7, 2011
Discussing Cracking the Carbon Code w/Terry Tamminen (Listen here.)

February 2011

Climate News Roundup -- February 28, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- February 14, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- February 7, 2011

Los Angeles Wave -- February 9, 2011

January 2011

Climate News Roundup -- January 31, 2011

Climate News Roundup -- January 24, 2011

Zayed Future Energy Prize -- January 18, 2011
Terry Tamminen, Finalist, Video

Climate News Roundup -- January 17, 2011

Huffington Post -- January 19, 2011
A Noble Prize for the 21st Century

Environment News Service -- January 18, 2011
Vestas Wind Energy Wins $1.5 Million Zayed Prize, Gives It Away -- January 18, 2011
Energy: The Danish Wind Company Vestas Gets an Environment Lifetime Achievement Award

Climate News Roundup -- January 10,  2011


Climate News Roundup -- January 3, 2011

CBC Radio Interview: The Current -- January 4, 2011
EPA Changes

EarthTechling -- January 3, 2011

U.S. Dominates Zayed Prize Finalists

December 2010

Huffington Post -- December 28, 2010
He'll Be Back

Climate News Roundup -- December 27, 2010

Greenbang -- December 22, 2010
The Secret to Sustainability? Commitment.

Vancouver Sun -- December 22, 2010
Zayed Future Energy Prize Announced Top Six Finalists to Compete for the $2.2 Millon

Climate News Roundup -- December 21, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- December 13, 2010

CA Independent Voter Network -- December 16, 2010
Just How Green is California's Jolly Green Governor?

Climate News Roundup -- December 6, 2010

Renewable Energy -- December 13, 2010
Zayed Future Energy Prize Shortlist

The Bay Citizen -- December 9, 2010
San Jose to Ban Single-Use Shopping Bags

November 2010

Climate News Roundup -- November 29,2010

Huffington Post -- November 30, 2010
Obama, Arnold, Jerry, and the Big Green Dream

Climate Watch -- November 29, 2010
California Floats Plan B in Cancun -- November 24, 2010
Schwarzenegger vil være global klimaforkæmper (Danish version)
Schwarzenegger will be global climate champion (English translation)

Climate News Roundup -- November 15, 2010

Sydney Morning Herald -- November 20, 2010
Governator Pledges Sequel As Climate Change Hero

Guardian UK -- November 18, 2010
Arnold Schwarzenegger: My Future As a Green Activist

Capitol Weekly -- November 18, 2010
On Environment, Mixed Reviews For Schwarzenegger

Los Angeles Times -- November 17, 2010
Schwarzenegger Launches New Climate-Change Group

Reuters -- November 16, 2010
California Leads "Subnational" Summit Climate Push

Climate News Roundup -- November 8, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- November 1, 2010

Green Biz Group -- November 8, 2010
Pioneering Cap-and-Trade Program to Fade into the Sunset

Climate News Roundup -- October 26, 2010

Solve Climate News -- November 1, 2010
To Get Elected, Florida's Rubio Leaving Climate Action Past Behind

Huffington Post -- November 1, 2010
Litmus Test: California Voters to Determine Fate of Climate Change Bill

October 2010

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability -- October 21, 2010
Terry Tamminen Debates Proposition 23 and the Future of California's Economy and Environment

Climate News Roundup -- October 18, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- October 11, 2010

Living On Earth -- October 15, 2010
California’s Climate Law on the Ballot

Triple Pundit -- October 15, 2010
Venture Capitalists Oppose California’s Prop 23

Climate News Roundup -- October 4, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- September 27, 2010

SolveClimate -- October 4, 2010
CA's Clean-Tech Potential Draws Venture Capitalists Into Fight Against Prop. 23

The Sacramento Bee -- October 3, 2010
ISO Proposals Threaten Local Clean Energy Projects

September 2010

Climate News Roundup -- September 20, 2010

Bloomberg -- September 22,2010
Pegasus Capital Designing 'Green Bank' to Fund Carbon Projects

Climate News Roundup -- September 14, 2010

Witty Sparks -- September 17, 2010
A Green Investment Bank For The R20? -- September 17, 2010
Regions look to create global power base

Climate News Roundup -- September 7, 2010

Climate Change Dispatch -- September 2010
Stern Warning For Climate Skeptics

Capitol Weekly -- September 9, 2010
Growth in renewable energy requires careful policy reform

Climate News Roundup -- August 30, 2010

The Age -- September 2, 2010
Stern warning for climate skeptics


August 2010

Renewable Energy Magazine -- August 30, 2010
FIT Coalition Gains New Advisors

Climate News Roundup -- August 23, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- August 16, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- August 9, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- August 6, 2010

2010 Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP)
Read the August 5, 2010 Report here.

The Colorado Independent -- August 7, 2010
Climate Experts Urge 'Aggressive' Action By Obama

Renewable Energy -- August 6, 2010
Congress: Start the Energy Revolution Without Me -- August 5, 2010
A climate ‘Plan B’ for team Obama

Huffington Post - August 5, 2010
U.S. Climate Bill, Regional Accords and State Leadership?

July 2010 -- July 7, 2010
With cap-and-trade on the ropes, what's the next move for the greens?

June 2010

Climate News Roundup -- June 14, 2010

CNBC's The Kudlow Report -- June 7, 2010
BP: Bankruptcy, Bailout, or Neither?

Climate News Roundup -- June 7, 2010

May 2010

Climate News Roundup -- May 17, 2010

Street -- May 13, 2010
CBS Corp (CBS) Announces Acquisition of EcoMedia

Climate News Roundup -- May 10, 2010

NRDC Switchboard -- May 6, 2010
Standing Up For Clean Energy in California

Santa Monica Close-Up -- May 5, 2010
2010 Sustainable Quality Awards

Climate News Roundup -- May 3, 2010

April 2010

Climate News Roundup -- April 26, 2010

Earth Day Event -- April 22, 2010
Cogut Center for the Humanities, Brown University

The New York Times -- April 21, 2010
California's Solar Scorecard

The Clarion Online -- April 21, 2010
Ordinary people can be environmental heroes

Climate News Roundup -- April 12, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- April 5, 2010

March 2010

Climate News Roundup -- March 29, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- March 22, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- March 15, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- March 8, 2010

Sydney Morning Herald -- March 4, 2010
True Cost of Oil 'Not Reflected at the Bowser'

ABC News -- March 3, 2010
Running Out of Oil

OnEarth Magazine -- Spring 2010
Driven - by Craig Canine

February 2010

Climate News Roundup -- February 22, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- February 12, 2010

Santa Maria -- February 5, 2010
Transitioning to Zero Waste

Climate News Roundup -- February 5, 2010

January 2010

Climate News Roundup -- January 29, 2010

The New Republic -- January 26, 2010
Is The Real Action On Climate Policy In The States?

Climate News Roundup -- January 22, 2010

The Energy Collective -- January 14, 2010
In the wake of Copenhagen, some things are clear

Climate News Roundup -- January 11, 2010

Climate News Roundup -- January 8, 2010 -- January 8, 2010
Ex-Secretary of California EPA Argues for Poop Power

The Huffington Post -- January 8, 2010
Climate Reform's Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Nation -- January 7, 2010
The Copenhagen Disaccord

Ode Magazine -- Jan/Feb 2010: The Intelligent Optimists Issue
Mastermind behind new energy laws

December 2009

CBC News Now (video) -- December 18, 2009
U.S. Push at Climate Talks

The Globe and Mail -- December 4, 2009
Provinces Go Rogue

UCLA Today -- December 4, 2009
Students Have Front-seat View at World Climate Talks

November 2009

Marketplace -- November 25, 2009
States Develop Cap and Trade Programs

The Nation -- November 19, 2009
Where's the Clean Energy?

Treehugger -- November 10, 2009
Global Green Design Awards, Celebrities, Toast Cooper Union, PG&E, Sebastian Copeland and Others

October 2009

Global Roundtable, Cape Town, South Africa -- October, 2009
Speech presented at the UNEP Finance Initiative

China Auto Pictorial -- Oct. 22, 2009
English article (pdf)
Chinese article (pdf)

Canada Globe and Mail – Oct. 19, 2009



Time – October 2, 2009

Solve Climate – October 2, 2009
Not Waiting for Copenhagen: Sub-National Leaders Forge Ahead with Climate Action

September 2009
Christian Science Monitor – Sept. 30, 2009

CNBC Power Lunch – Sept. 30, 2009
Governors Go Green

August 2009 – August 28, 2009
The Johnny Appleseed of Climate Change

July 2009 – July 5, 2009
Terry Tamminen: The World's One-Man Climate Fixer

Santa Monica Mirror – July 9-15, 2009
Smart2BeGreen's Hero

June 2009 – June 5, 2009
Two gorillas walk into a UN climate meeting

CNBC – June 4, 2009
US Climate Change Policy (VIDEO)

Energy Risk – June 4, 2009
US climate legislation not vital for Copenhagen talks, says Obama advisor

May 2009

The Daily Gleaner – May 25, 2009
One of those “I told you so’ moments

The Canberra Times – May 25, 2009
Times are a’changing, at last

The New York Times – May 20, 2009
Secret Meeting Between U.S. and China Broke New Ground on Climate

The Guardian – May 18, 2009
China and US held secret talks on climate change deal

Grist – May 12, 2009
Crist, a green-leaning moderate Republican, is running for U.S. Senate

Docuticker – May 6, 2009
State Climate Policy Tracker Reveals Progress by 33 States

April 2009

Vancouver Sun – April 17, 2009
California may warm to B.C. private power producers

EcoSalon – April 20, 2009
Rise of the Eco Barons

Mother Nature Network – April 29, 2009
Meet the eco-barons

Climate Progress – April 2009
The Really Cool Awards

Solve Climate – April 9, 2009
The Envelope, Please: Recognizing the Unsung Heroes of

Tuscon Citizen – April 1, 2009
Kimble: Eco Barons

March 2009

Go Solar Power For Homes - March 19, 2009
With Hollywood becoming environmentally-friendly…? – March 18, 2009
Experts: US climate policy must not sideline coal

Los Angeles Times – March 16, 2009
Global warming: Do Americans care?

Australia Wellness Hub – March, 2009
Terry featured on Australia’s Insight: 1 of 6

PowellsBooks.Blog – March 8, 2009
Why I Had to Write Eco Barons – March 8, 2009
“’Eco-Barons’ find creative ways to save the planet”

Eco-Pragmatism – March 2, 2009
The Environmental Divide

February 2009

Blue Fuel Energy – Feb. 21, 2009
Canada: the Saudi Arabia of wind

CBC Radio – Feb. 19, 2009
The Current for February 19, 2009

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2009
Summit Bulletin – Feb. 7, 2009

Green Space Today –Volume 1, Issue 2
Terry Tamminen, An American Green Leader

Books Energy Oil – Feb. 18, 2009
Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction

The Economist – Feb. 12, 2009
Tree-huggers v nerds

Solve Climate – Feb. 4, 2009
Wall Street Journal Sinks to New Anti-Green Low

January 2009

Solve Climate – Jan. 26, 2009
Job Preservation Comes First in Maryland Climate Bill

Waste Material – Jan. 5, 2009
51 Things We Can Do to Save the Environment

InvestTalk – Jan.2, 2009
Interviews with Special Guests

December 2008

Grist – Dec.22, 2008
Holding out for a hero: Vote for the top eco-hero of 2008

Smibs Grow Smart Blog – Dec.16, 2008
Innovation through necessity

Plenty – Dec. 15, 2008
So What Exactly Does a “Climate Czar” Do, Anyway?

Bio Energy Forum – Dec. 15, 2008
Lt. Governor Lawton & UW-Stevens Point Summit Sets Course for
Action on Climate Change in Regions Across Wisconsin

News of the North – Dec. 15, 2008
Message from Wisconsin’s climate summit: it’s up to us, at home and

Washington Post – Dec. 12, 2008
Concern for Climate Change Defines Energy Dept. Nominee

Grist – Dec. 10, 2008
Mind your CEQ

Fast Company – Dec. 2008
The Top 3 Sustainability Trends for 2009

Grist – Dec. 4, 2008
The fierce urgency of now

Toronto Star – Dec. 1, 2008
Venture funds bets billion on cleantech

Essential Talks – Dec. 1, 2008
Antonia Juhasz

November 2008

How to make biodiesel – Nov. 29, 2008
Green façade: Why the state’s eco-friendly cars aren’t doing the job

The Huffington Post – Nov. 24, 2008
Californians Blazing Bipartisan and Global Path to Clean Energy Future

YouTube – Nov. 19, 2008
Global Climate Summit: Welcome by Terry Tamminen

LA Times – Nov. 20, 2008
California leads fight against climate change on global level

NY Times – Nov. 20, 2008
China Hints at Climate Strategy in Los Angeles

Grist Magazine– Nov. 18, 2008
States of Grace

Marketplace – Nov. 18, 2008
Calif. climate summit’s global impact

SFGate – Nov. 18, 2008
Governor in limelight as climate summit host

SFGate – Nov. 17, 2008
The measure of environmental leadership – Nov. 16, 2008
Schwarzenegger’s Hollywood Summit Seeks Thaw in Climate Talks

Invest talk - Nov. 12, 2008
Not WHAT but HOW you buy

FLYP – Issue 17, Nov. 7-20, 2008
Now What?: Advice to Obama

TIME – Nov. 3, 2008
Will Green Progress Be Stalled by the Bad Economy?

DC Velocity – Nov. 2008 Issue
How green are your pallets?

October 2008

Pandemonium – Oct. 30, 2008

My Solar Secret – Oct. 25, 2008
With Hollywood Becoming Environmentally Friendly - Oct. 24, 2008
CA Event: The Next World – Panel 4 (video + article)

PBS Frontline - Oct. 21, 2008

San Francisco Chronicle - Oct. 17, 2008
GOP environmental record a challenge for McCain

Island Press - Oct. 14, 2008
Podcast (audio)

Island Press - Oct. 14, 2008
Presidential Election/Environmental Issues (audio)

September 2008

MSNBC – Sept. 29, 2008
Schwarzenegger to convene climate summit

The Commonwealth Club of California - Sept. 26, 2008
Arnold Schwarzenegger on Keeping California Cool (Video: Terry
appears from 57:39-1:00:00)

Environmental Leader – Sept. 6, 2008
Business and the Environment: The Challenge of Change

August 2008

New America Foundation: Climate Change Solutions - Aug 21, 2008
Ideas for States, Nations, and the World

Huffington Post - Aug 14, 2008
How the 44th President of the United States, and the 38th Governor of California, Saved America

Science and Society - Aug 13, 2008
Re-release of the 11-16-2006 interview with Terry (Podcast link on page)

July 2008

Electric Politics - Jul 18, 2008
The Art of Implementation

New America Foundation, Climate Change Solutions - July 17, 2008
Ideas for States, Nations, and the World

June 2008
Platts - Jun 10, 2008
States, regions take lead on CO2: Schwarzenegger adviser

Times Herald-Record - June 7, 2008
Sustainable Living: True cost of pumping gas: $10 a gallon

May 2008

Ahead of the Curve: States Lead on Climate Change-- May 28, 2008
Short Film

April 2008

CNET-- April 16, 2008
Clean-tech Adviser doesn't see a bubble yet

The News Hour with Jim Lehrer-- April 15, 2008
Schwarzenegger Adviser Outlines U.S. Oil Addiction

Reuters-- April 15, 2008
Governors to plot climate fight at Yale meeting

Venture Beat-- April 15, 2008
California Environmental Advisor Terry Tamminen on trains, energy efficiency, Al Gore, and more

Fox Business News-- April 10, 2008
Fox Business News

March 2008

Marketplace-- March 20, 2008
Cap and Trade vs. "t-word" in California

February 2008 February 28, 2008
Florida's GOP Governor also a Crusader February 7, 2008
Other states looking to follow California in energy efficiency

Environment News Service- February 4, 2008
Will Candidates' Green Talk Lead to Presidential Action?

Baltimore Sun-- February 4, 2008
Bay and Environment - O'Malley: Human survival at risk from warming

January 2008

The Australian-- January 21, 2008
California Dreaming

PR Newswire-- January 15, 2008
iGPS Announces Appointment of Terry Tamminen January 15, 2008
Charlie Crist Superstar

The Guardian-- January 5, 2008
50 People Who Could Save the Planet

December 2007

Earthtoys-- Dec. 12
California Commission to Recommend Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs Dec. 5, 2007
Are Feed-in Tariffs a Possibility in California?

Grist-- December 4, 2007
300 Ideas in 100 Days

November 2007 November 26, 2007
As Washington stalls, clean energy takes off

NOS -- November 25,2007
Californie: groenste staat van Amerika

The New Zealand Herald-- November 7, 2007
States Stepping Up to Climate Challenge


Featured Press

Terry Tamminen's R20 Regions of Climate Action: Global Policy Goals and Initiatives

March 2014

The Planning Report

Photo credit: Reuters

The R20—Regions of Climate Action—is a non-profit that assists governments in implementing low-carbon and climate resilient economic development projects, originally founded by California Governor Arnold SchwarzeneggerTerry Tamminen, R20’s Strategic Advisor to the Founding Chair and President/Founder of 7th Generation Advisors, sat down with TPR to explain R20’s goals, impact, and current project, as well as touching on his other climate-related endeavors.

Terry, you’ve spoken of R20—which you helped found with Governor Schwarzenegger and where you still serve as the strategic advisor—as a “carbon rebel alliance” of states and provinces. Tell us what you mean and what that term implies.

Terry Tamminen: The R20 is a nonprofit. The R stands for regional governments—states and provinces—and there were originally 20, including California and British Columbia. It’s now connecting over 500 states and provinces all over the world. We try to do three things: We bring together policy, technology, and finance. Policy is obviously where we can share what has worked. If you’re a region that’s thinking about incentivizing more solar, should you study the California model that has a lot of incentives built in the front end of the system, or should you follow the German model with a feed-in tariff, or some blending thereof? All the states and provinces can learn from each other. 

Secondly is technology. Government cannot know which policy to incentivize or promote if they don’t understand the technology. In building standards, you might want to set a new performance standard for efficient lighting, but if you don’t know the next generation of LED lighting coming down the pike, and what it’s going to cost, it’s difficult to set the standards in a way that maximizes the efficiency benefits. 

The third piece, finance, really is the key because there are other organizations that do those first two. In addition to having the right policy and understanding the technology, if you don’t educate the financial community, they won’t invest in the resulting projects. They’re worried about the stability of government policies and about the durability of new technologies. Getting investors comfortable with the policy and the technology is just as important as working with those other two sectors. 

That’s what the R20 tries to do—bring together those three sectors into meaningful projects. An example of that would be in Brazil, where we’re helping states and cities identify inefficient streetlights that can be replaced by modern LEDs, with the cost covered through savings of energy, labor, and maintenance. The overall goal of the R20 is to help its member states and provinces become more energy-efficient, cleaner, more sustainable, and reduce greenhouse gases globally.

As there are literally a host of jurisdictions involved with R20, give us other examples in which these principles are being applied with the assistance and support of R20.

With a relatively small staff, being a non-profit, we can’t be active in every one of those jurisdictions, so we try to take the lessons of successful projects and help our members find them on their own. For example, we have an LED street-lighting toolkit that takes a region through the step-by-step process of identifying for themselves what they can do to retrofit their streetlights—how to find financing, how to find the right technology, and so forth, even if there’s not an R20 office in their immediate vicinity. 

We do that with other toolkits where there might not be such an obvious payback. Our first one that’s actually up on our website is called the “Cool Roofs Toolkit.” That was put together with the Cool Roofs Alliance and Art Rosenfeld, when he was at the Energy Commission—a great guy who has been involved in these things for many years. It’s a how-to for entities—whether you’re a university campus, a city government, or any other jurisdiction—to consult and say, “If I were to make some changes to my roof, could I get the benefits of paying for that with energy savings or greenhouse gas reductions?” We try to create projects that can be self-replicating, and then there are others where we just try to introduce the technology, get governments comfortable with it, and let the financial community figure it out on their own, so to speak. 

We’re working in Brazil, for example, and also in Delta State in Nigeria, on a biogas program. Since development of biogas from food waste or animal waste is well-understood, it’s just a matter of showing the technologies that are less expensive, that might be more useful for small-scale projects—say, for example, a university campus that has a lot of food waste, or a group of farms that might have a good deal of animal waste but might not be close to major cities. Helping those jurisdictions find the right technology and then letting them shop for themselves is another way that the R20 helps.

Terry, with the governor you’ve spent a great deal of time in China, and you’ve written two books on fossil fuels, Cracking the Carbon Code and Lives Per Gallon, published in China. Elaborate on your work in China and the consequences of that work to date.

China is such a fascinating place. You mentioned those books—in the time since I’ve written them, China has become the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases and is rapidly closing on the US as the world’s largest economy. We know how fast people are moving from the rural areas to the urban areas, and what that’s meant for development—people who want cars, want appliances, air conditioning, and all the modern conveniences. We’ve seen this rapid commercialization of the country, not just for the export market. The greenhouse gas levels and pollution levels have increased dramatically just in the time I’ve been going over there, just since 2007. 

What we’re trying to do there is once again help various Chinese regions identify, in some cases, technology in their own regions. For example, one of the regions where the R20 works is the province of Jiangsu. One of the major cities there is Wuxi. In Wuxi, they have a fantastic manufacturing facility called WesTech that makes solar water heater systems, solar-thermal technology. They’re exporting it—in fact, they’re opening a factory in the United States—but various government agencies right in Jiangsu weren’t using their own homegrown product and were instead heating water with electricity or fossil fuels. We were able to introduce this local company to the hospital being built by the government and to the environmental protection building being built by the government. Today, both of those facilities have very large water-heating systems—100 percent of the hot water locally provided by WesTech systems. 

Part of our goal is to increase the number of green jobs in a region. That’s what makes these things more sustainable and scalable. 

As you know, VerdeXchange is modeled on how you and the governor framed the opportunities around subnational initiatives and opportunities. You played a role not only in the countries you suggested, but also in Canada and Arizona, two other locations of VerdeXchange conferences. Tell us about your work in Arizona and Canada.

Arizona’s an interesting situation. Back when the R20 was formed, and back when we were doing Governors Climate Summits with Governor Schwarzenegger in office, Janet Napolitano was one of the co-founders of those efforts when she was Governor of Arizona. Then Governor Brewer took over, who is a conservative Republican and doesn’t want to be involved in things relating to climate change. She, as you know, took Arizona out of the Western Climate Initiative in terms of the cap-and-trade system and also said she didn’t want to be part of the R20 because its nominal purpose is to reduce greenhouse gases. But, we were able to continue working with the City of Phoenix, because officials there can see the benefits of renewable energy, energy-efficiency projects, waste conversion, and various other things that obviously create green jobs. The same thing was true in Michigan, where we went through a change of political leadership, but the Republican governor coming in said, “Look, as long as this is about green jobs, we want to do it.” 

In British Columbia, that’s always been a success story. They went from what would have been considered a more conservative government—Gordon Campbell, one of the founders of the R20—to what would be considered a more liberal government under Christy Clark, and yet they didn’t miss a beat staying part of the R20, because they’ve had a carbon tax up there that both parties support, and they see the benefits of clean energy and green jobs. They’ve got a very vibrant clean tech sector. In fact, as you know, Premier Clark was here in Los Angeles recently promoting investment in clean technology in British Columbia. 

Every time I go up there, I find really exciting opportunities in the form of companies that can be shown throughout the R20. 

Let’s take a step back and speak to R20, your strategic work there, and how R20 is going about “empowering regions to implement new energy solutions.” 

It was originally founded when Governor Schwarzenegger, at the end of 2009, went to the Conference of the Parties (COP15) the UNFCCC has every year. It was in Copenhagen, you may remember, when everyone was hopeful that the UN process would give us a new climate change agreement globally to take over from the Kyoto Protocol. That didn’t happen, even though President Obama and various world leaders went there and tried their best. Governor Schwarzenegger gave a speech at that event and said, “It’s time to stop doing things the old way—which is top-down, from the national governments—and to harness the power of this bottom-up strategy, where you have states, provinces, and cities that are already taking the kinds of actions that we are asking our national governments to take, and proving it’s good for the economy, as well as the environment.” 

After that speech, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the UN asked him to try to stay involved with this, knowing that he had less than a year and half in office at that point—much like Tony Blair has done after leaving office, or President Clinton, and now Mayor Bloomberg. That was really the place where we began thinking about creating an organization that would work with states and provinces, and partner with organizations like the C40 that works with cities. In fact, Jay Carson from C40 is on our Board of Directors to make sure that we coordinate carefully with examples learned in cities. Of course, they can benefit from the resources R20 brings. 

The organization was started in Geneva. Because we are an international organization, it seemed a good place to connect with many countries. Ban Ki-moon gave us some free office space and staff on loan from the UN to get started. R20 was first launched there, and our headquarters are still in Geneva. Then, we opened up an office here in Los Angeles, one in Beijing, one in Brazil, and now we have a couple of offices getting started in Northern and Western Africa. It’s a non-profit, and its members are state and provincial governments. We work with businesses and academics that we call our partners. We try to get everybody in under the same tent.

Share with our readers how R20 has evolved in these last four to five years to become stronger and more inclusive of additional jurisdictions. What are the learning lessons, and how has it evolved?

As with any non-profit, you never have enough staff and never have enough hours in the day. We learned that you do have to pay for this sort of thing—you do have to raise the money to be able to put a professional staff in the field to respond to the demand. However, you have to leverage those resources. So, the projects that we try to focus on are the ones that can be replicated easily. With the one-off projects that might require very localized feedstocks, inputs, circumstances, or government support—it’s not that we wouldn’t try to help on those if they had a good benefit, but we do try to focus on the things that, if we’ve done it in one place, we can show our other members they can do it, too. That also is good for business. 

We partner on lighting with Lighting Science Group, which is helping us replace streetlights in Brazil, and Philips on similar projects in Europe. Once we’ve helped some of our members do things like replace streetlights, then we can turn to those companies and say, “Here are the markets.” This shortens their time to get to the markets and to find more willing cities to replace their streetlights. 

Similarly, whoever financed that, we can turn back to those financial institutions and say, “You did a great job financing streetlight retrofits in Brazil. Now we’ve got a similar project for you in Canada. What do you think of this?” Once you’ve shortened that learning cycle, it makes it possible to do a lot more, much more quickly, with the limited resources that any non-profit has.

Well said. Terry, coming to a close, in addition to being a former Shakespearean actor and the former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, share with our readers the other hats you continue to wear.

Part of this, since leaving state government, has made me realize how important finance is to this. It’s not just the greening of technology or the greening of governments and politicians. It really is finance. I was struck in 2010 when I went to a UN conference where 400 financial institutions were all talking about the low-carbon economy and the benefits of it, but on the same day a report came out showing that more than 50 percent of the investment managers in those very same investment firms were not taking carbon or sustainability into consideration at all when they actually made the investments for those institutions, because that’s not how they were measured. It’s not that they weren’t aware of the policies that their leadership had created, but they simply were not measured that way. It highlighted to me the need to get the financial community on board. 

I’ve tried to put together a green finance network for the R20 to educate as many different institutions as possible. I also serve as an advisor to Pegasus Capital in New York, which is one of the leading sustainability and resource-scarcity investors. I’ve tried to work with anyone else—Walmart, Proctor and Gamble, other companies—moving the needle globally.

Let’s close with this last question. Having been so involved as a cabinet secretary and with the last governor, is California still successfully framing and advancing opportunities in the global green economy?

Absolutely. I can’t tell you—as I travel around for the R20, everybody wants to know how California has done it. I give a lot of credit to Governor Brown. You may recall that as soon as he was elected, his first appointment was to reappoint Mary Nichols to Chair of the Air Resources Board because of her crucial role in implementing California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32. The two of them have, indeed, continued to do a great job on expanding and developing the cap-and-trade program, some of the other early action measures and incentives, and so forth, whether it’s on clean cars or renewables. 

I think Governor Brown has also done a good job to say that AB 32, Million Solar Roofs, the Hydrogen Highway, and many other things that Governor Schwarzenegger did were all about mitigation, so California’s a leader in climate change mitigation. But, we’re going to have to adapt to some of the inevitable problems that are created by the fact that we haven’t, as a world, dealt with this issue sooner. There’s going to be sea level rise, more intense storms, the kinds of droughts that we’re seeing now, and so on. He’s focused on adaptation—what are the things that we’re going to have to do to adapt?—and making California a leader in cost-effective ways to try to adapt to the inevitable changes coming our way. 

I’d say California’s still truly the shining light around the world for governments of all sizes. Even though we’re a state, we’re probably the eighth or ninth largest economy on the planet. Countries look to California. We have another delegation coming in March from Nigeria to learn from California. We just hosted the countries of Bahrain and Algeria, with many of their environmental and business leaders coming to understand how California has done it. I’d say we’re still number one in that category.