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Californians nix plan to ditch climate change law

Voters in California turned out in force on Tuesday to defeat a controversial measure that would have set back the state's plans for renewable energies and the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Proposition 23 pushed for the suspension of California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 until unemployment had dropped below 5.5 per cent for more than 12 months - something that economists predicted would not happen for several years.

The proposal was opposed by a host of celebrities including 'Governator' Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

The campaign to suspend the 2006 Act, which is also known as AB32, was widely seen as an attempt by major oil producers to scupper the state's attempts to improve its dismal environmental record.

According to figures from funding watchdog, the $10.5 million campaign was largely funded by Texas-based oil companies Valero and Tesoro.

"I think it's extremely significant that in recessionary times Californians once again prove you can have both a strong economy and a clean environment," said Steven Maviglio, former campaign strategist for Hillary Clinton and spokesman for the campaign against Proposition 23.

Maviglio said that the "coalition we put together - Republicans, Democrats, new economy, old economy - was effective in overcoming the invasion of two Texas oil companies."

The legislation at the heart of the Proposition 23 controversy, 2006's Global Warming Solutions Act, set a timetable for the state's to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the international Kyoto Protocol.

California ruffled oily feathers by adopting the law after the US - the world's second-largest producer of CO2 after China, accounting for 16 per cent of global emissions - refused to sign up to the Protocol, which came into effect in 2005.

Voters rejected the proposal to ditch the Act by 59 per cent to 41, in polls that saw a number of other controversial proposals thrown out, including a plan to legalise cannabis.

The elections saw Democrat Jerry Brown triumph in the race for governor, defeating former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who spent a record $141 million on her campaign.