State Bypasses Kyoto, Fights Global Warming:
California Tries to Cut Emissions on its Own
San Francisco Chronicle; Feb. 17, 2004 (p.A-1)
Since the United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, global warming is an especially attractive subject for journalists to explore as a local and regional story (see article, Environment Writer, February, 2005).
On the day after the treaty took effect in dozens of countries other than the U.S., reporter Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle, provided an instructive example of how that reporting can be done. "As the Kyoto Protocol went into effect Wednesday, obligating its 141 member nations to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases linked to climate change, the accountants and engineers at PG&E were hard at work on tasks that could become almost as important for Planet Earth." The giant utility, Collier writes, "is carefully assessing the innumerable facets of its California power network, cutting back its output of greenhouse gases such as sulfur hexafluoride and gradually switching to generators that use renewable energy technologies." The electricity producer's actions, along with those of other major companies, were "directed by California state regulatory agencies and echoed by a growing number of other state governments, to bypass the Kyoto debate and take direct action against global warming." California is often a leader on environmental policy, its actions at least a potential precursor of what other states and the federal government does later. Collier reports that in the case of climate change, "many experts say California's actions could help defuse the tensions in Washington and bring pressure on President Bush and Congress to take action against global warming, with or without Kyoto."