Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss global warming with European officials

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will fly to Europe to discuss efforts to combat global warming with  Nicolas Sarkozy and Tony Blair.

Schwarzenegger's trip was designed to reciprocate Blair's visit to California last summer to announce a trans-Atlantic alliance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Late this week, however, Sarkozy announced California's celebrity governor would first travel to Paris for meetings.

Schwarzenegger on Thursday billed the visit to Elysee Palace as both a planning meeting for a larger European trade mission, possibly as early as next year, and as an opportunity to spread his environmental diplomacy.

"As you know, the United States has failed to join the European Union and the G-8 with their environmental goals, so I think what I want to do as a state is say, 'We want to join them, we want to go work with them,"' said Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger also praised Sarkozy as an innovative leader with bold new ideas. "I am looking forward to meeting with the president and learning about his governing style, which reaches across party lines to build consensus," he said.

Following the meeting with Sarkozy on Monday, Schwarzenegger is scheduled to travel to London and hold a private meeting with Blair on his last full day in office.

Blair will step down as prime minister on June 27 and be replaced by British Treasury chief Gordon Brown.

Schwarzenegger's office said the meeting with Blair will mirror the one the two held in Long Beach, California, last summer. They will meet with business leaders to discuss ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions without stifling economic growth.

Environmental groups have called the trans-Atlantic alliance largely symbolic. It calls for collaboration on research into cleaner-burning fuels and into the possibility of setting up a system for companies to buy and sell credits so they can continue releasing greenhouse gases.

The two will end their visit by touring an environmentally friendly elementary school.