That sad interview of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on 60 Minutes got people rushing to Amazon to buy his tawdry tell-all autobiography. Now, Schwarzenegger\u2019s main legacy as governor--the state\u2019s carbon cap-and-trade program--is about to get its play in prime time. Next month, the California Air Resources Board plans to run the state\u2019s first carbon auction. But it promises to be about as sad as the former governor himself has become, compared to the grandiosity of the pre-release publicity. Cap-and-trade was conceived as a story writ large--an action hero blockbuster with the governor as star and his coterie of environmental appointees in leading roles. They envisioned favorable reviews, red carpet, their photos splashed across newspapers, magazines, and TV. It was their chance to create a classic. They promised the likes of a James Bond thriller, a bold international epic linked to carbon markets across the western U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe. There would be international carbon offset projects with cameo appearances by Indonesian forest kings in front of the costumed natives planting trees and Latin American hog barons doing interviews on their verandas, as the beer commercial says, \u201cThe most interesting men in the world.\u201d But reality set in and the years went by in readying the program well past the governor\u2019s term in office. Six years after Schwarzenegger penned AB 32 into law, the cap-and-trade program is finally ready to implement. Instead of being big and bold, as promised, it stands small, isolated, and hollow, with little import when it comes to climate change. Ultimately, California\u2019s hope of leading on climate change through a grand cap-and-trade strategy has fallen on deaf ears, both in a Democratically-controlled Congress during the first two years of the Obama Administration and at Copenhagen, where world leaders met in a vain attempt to craft a comprehensive international climate change treaty, late in 2009. Back then, California officials envisioned themselves as stars on the world climate studio stage. Then, one by one, Western states turned their back on creating their own carbon markets to link to California\u2019s program, concerned about the economic effects and room for shenanigans as trading got a bad name in the financial meltdown. The Air Resources Board persisted, largely to save face, but made major concessions in the screen play to advance the project. That won\u2019t stop the press releases from flying next month as the bit actors and grips supported by consulting fees, commissions, or who stand to soon gain subsidies from the proceeds of the cap-and-trade paper shuffle applaud the auction, calling it this fall\u2019s must see. But beyond the echo chamber of the computerized trading room and the four walls of the Air Board offices, California\u2019s cap-and-trade program will have little practical effect. First, it seeks only very small reductions in emissions from electric utilities over the next eight years (and almost none from some other industries considered vulnerable to out-of-state competitors not facing greenhouse gas controls). In the electric industry, the emissions reductions are already sure to occur due to other longer standing policies in place, such as the state\u2019s renewable portfolio standard, energy efficiency program, and SB 1368 requirement to phase out use of out-of-state coal power. Take the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, which will have to cut emissions under the program by 14 percent. Then there\u2019s San Diego Gas & Electric, which has to cut emissions by 11 percent. Pacific Gas & Electric must cut emissions by 9 percent. Cap-and-trade isn\u2019t needed for them to make those reductions. Simply keeping on the already required renewable energy and efficiency paths required under other laws is enough. Southern California Edison\u2019s reduction, at 24 percent, looks big. But most of that will be taken care of by the utility\u2019s pending plan to divest its interest in the Four Corners coal plant in New Mexico, a decision it made to comply with SB 1368. Then there are those whose emissions can grow. Sacramento Municipal Utility District can increase emissions by 1.3 percent by 2020. Some of the many other municipal utilities that also can increase emissions include Azusa, Colton, Imperial Irrigation District, Redding, and Riverside. These generous emissions allowances--not to mention the free allowances allotted to oil refineries, which are worth $2 billion, according to the Union of Concerned Scientist--are highly unlikely to create a robust carbon market. On top of this, half the emissions reductions can be met through various offset projects. Yet, it won\u2019t matter much anyway because greenhouse gas emissions have been declining under a variety of other policies. With declines by 2009, according to the Air Board\u2019s inventory, emissions stood only 5.5 percent above 1990 emissions, the state\u2019s 2020 emissions cap goal. Energy Information Administration data show a continuing decline in carbon dioxide emissions from combustion through last year. In the end, the reality of cap-and-trade is far from James Bond at the high stakes baccarat table in Monaco. Instead, it\u2019s an Arnold Schwarzenegger rerun after the late night slot.