Speaking before the annual Navigating the American Carbon World conference, Governor Brown issued an executive order today to reduce California's carbon pollution to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The order will put California halfway toward achieving its 2050 commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels, in line with the science-driven consensus of the reductions required from industrial nations to avoid the most catastrophic risks of climate change.
The 2030 target represents nearly a 45 percent reduction from California's 2012 emissions, according to the most recent emissions data available from the California Air Resources Board. As the Governor told the crowd, "I've set a very high bar, but it's a bar we must meet...our future depends on it."
The Road to 2030
Thanks to a portfolio of groundbreaking clean energy and transportation policies California is on track to achieve the 2020 statewide limit established in the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006 (AB 32). These policies have delivered a suite of benefits to Californians in the form of cleaner energy, lower fuel bills, and improved public health. And Californians are taking note - according to a recent FM3 poll, 70 percent of residents support AB 32 and moving clean energy forward in California.
While California has made great strides over the past decade, the pace of reductions must quicken to achieve our long-term goals. The good news is we have the policy framework in place to get a significant head start, with successful policies already reducing emissions through cleaner cars, low-carbon fuels, renewable energy, more efficient homes and businesses, and an overarching cap-and-trade program. Multiple analyses demonstrate how these policies are poised to be expanded to meet Governor Brown's 2030 target.
New Target, Same Leadership
As countries around the world consider their emission reduction commitments in advance of the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris at the end of the year, Governor Brown's executive order sends a clear signal that the world's 7th-largest economy is prepared to lead the way. California's target aligns with the European Union's pledge to reduce emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and sets a more aggressive path than the United States pledge to reduce its emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Lest They Be Forgotten...
While Governor Brown was making headlines in LA, Senate leaders were making headlines of their own in Sacramento. SB 32 (Pavley), which codifies the state's 2050 target with direction to ARB to propose interim targets in 2030 and 2040, and SB 350 (De LeÃ³n), which moves forward the goals Governor Brown announced in his Inaugural Address to increase renewable energy to 50 percent, cut petroleum use in half, and double the energy efficiency of buildings by 2030, both passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Those bills and others will be considered alongside a public process that the California Air Resources Board will initiate this summer to update the state's Scoping Plan and chart out the strategies required to achieve the new 2030 target.
Clearly, much work likes ahead; but the takeaway from today is clear - in the global response that will be required to confront climate change, the Golden State will continue to set the gold standard.