California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has pulled off a political coup by agreeing a deal to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent by 2020. The deal between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor, puts California at the forefront of efforts by states in the US to combat climate change. It also puts Arnie at odds with Republicans in the Californian Legislature and Bush in the White House.

The deal could establish controls on the largest industrial sectors, including utilities, oil refineries and cement plants. The state has already placed strict limits on automobile emissions, although that move is being challenged in federal court. The first major controls are scheduled to begin in 2012, with the aim of reducing the emissions to their level in 1990.

“We can now move forward with developing a market-based system that makes California a world leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions,” Arnie said in a statement. “The success of our system will be an example for other states and nations to follow as the fight against climate change continues. [This deal] strengthens our economy, cleans our environment and once again, establishes California as the leader in environmental protection.”

Environmentalists and Democratic leaders were equally ecstatic. California state assembly speaker Fabian Nunez said the deal was “the most important day in my legislative career”. Bob Epstein, of the business lobbying group Environmental Entrepreneurs, said: “This is the tipping point in the country’s climate-change debate”.

Its great to see a “tipping point” in the right direction for once.