Global warming continues, Schwarzenegger to boost green tech

Amid continued evidence global warming is speeding up, Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed new regulations requiring a 10 percent reduction in the carbon content of all passenger vehicle fuels sold in California by 2020.

Details are still being ironed out, but it suggests the Silicon Valley environment for investments in green technologies will remain healthy.

The standard would apply to all gasoline refiners, and it could be met if they increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline from the current 6 percent to 10 percent. There’s a summary of Schwarzenegger’s plans in the Mercury News. He also wants to introduce a carbon-trading system, so that the oil industry can find the most cost-effective way of meeting the standard.

However, since ethanol is impractical as a source here in California (because the state doesn’t grow corn, and it is costly to import it), this gives start-ups more incentive to invest in cellulosic ethanol, made form plant residue.

By the way, check out TerraPass, a San Francisco company that sells carbon offset credits to individuals, who want to be “carbon neutral” in their lives. Terrapass lets you compensate for the amount of carbon you’re producing by driving or flying by planting trees on your behalf. We’ve mentioned it before. But that was before the word “carbon neutral” entered the mainstream. The company has 30,000 customers, up from 2,000 last year, when we first mentioned it.

Last year was the warmest in the U.S. for the past 112 years, continuing a nine-year warming streak “unprecedented in the historical record,” the federal National Climate Data Center said this week, blaming it on the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And the warming appears to be speeding up.