California invites countries to carbon cap meeting

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California plans to host a meeting of several countries in November to discuss ways to limit greenhouse gas emissions, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Friday.

The governor’s office has invited China, India, European countries, Australia, Canada and Mexico to a meeting ahead of international climate talks the following month in Poland. Details still are being worked out.

Schwarzenegger aims to reach out to certain Chinese states, for example, on emissions limits because the federal government there, as in the United States, was not acting fast enough.

“We know that Washington is asleep at the wheel. We cannot look for leadership there,” he told San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club to mark two years since California’s own legislation to cap emissions and set up a market for carbon credits. “We are not waiting for the federal government.”

On Thursday, 10 Northeastern states kicked off the first U.S. cap-and-trade market under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Schwarzenegger hoped more would join the separate Western Climate Initiative (WCI), but worried about a patchwork of rules and wanted to see a global market develop.

The WCI, including California, six other states and four provinces in Canada, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, while the RGGI will lower its emissions cap 10 percent from current levels by 2019.

Separately, Schwarzenegger reiterated his opposition to drilling off the coast of California, just days after the federal government passed legislation that will allow a national ban on offshore drilling to expire next week.

Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by David Gregorio