These efforts have made a difference, he says. The average Californian now uses only 6,700-kilowatt hours of electricity per year, compared with the national average of 12,000, Schwarzenegger says.
State, local, and private climate initiatives are important. According to the United Nations Development Program, between 50 percent and 80 percent of the actions to reduce carbon emissions happen at the “sub-national level.”
Enter R20. Through its Green Finance Network, the nonprofit helps state and local governments, as well as financial institutes, pair with green technology companies to increase energy efficiency and sustainability. More than 100 financial institutions, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines, participate in R20.
“We are the marriage brokers between government, finance, and green technologies. It’s a well-kept secret that what’s good for the environment is good for the economy,” says Terry Tamminen, strategic adviser to the founding chair of the R20.
[Editor's note: The original version of this story misidentified Mr. Tamminen's role at R20.]
For example, General Electric plans to build the largest solar-panel factory in the United States. GE is already one of the world’s primary manufacturers of wind turbines. In China, WestTech just joined R20. Its solar-thermal products are about 60 percent more effective than any other products out there, Mr. Tamminen says.
The Chinese "recognize their future is in saving energy. They know they can’t gobble up fossil fuels without choking to death,” says Tamminen, the
former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Schwarzenegger.