Gov. Jerry Brown: California is the ‘Epicenter’ of Climate Change

jerry brownOn Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown called California the “epicenter of climate change” while speaking at the University of California’s Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. Gov. Brown just might be right. This past week, wildfires have blazed across thousands of acres in Southern California. All of California is in a drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report. The U.S. Drought Monitor characterized 100 percent of the state as being in either a “severe drought or worse” and called attention to the heat wave “settling in, which will only serve to exacerbate and accelerate drought impact concerns across the state.” The Monitor also warned that there will be increases on water demand and increased fire risk as the temperatures rise.

Gov. Brown also appeared on ABC’s “This Week” discussing the impacts of climate change on California. “The state’s climate appears to be changing,” Brown said. “The scientists tell us that definitely. So we’ve got to gear up here.” Brown made it clear that California is not just adapting to climate change but “taking steps to reduce our greenhouse gases in a way that I think exceeds any other state in the country.”

What is California doing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)? For starters, in 2005, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order setting short and long term greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals: to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Schwarzenegger then signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 which set the reduction goals into law. In 2009, California adopted a Climate Adaptation Strategy, which summarizes climate change impacts and recommends adaptation strategies.

California is encouraging the growth of renewable energy. The state has one of the most ambitious renewables portfolio standards (RPS) in the country. Established in 2002, it was increased in 2006 and expanded in 2011. It requires utilities to obtain 33 percent of total electricity from renewables by 2020. California also is putting a price on GHG emissions: In early 2012, California’s Cap-and-Trade Program took effect, and on Jan. 1, 2013 the enforceable compliance obligation for GHG emissions began. California is part of the Western Climate Initiative, a collaboration of several western states and Canadian provinces to create a regional carbon trading market.

California takes energy efficiency so seriously that it is using the grizzly bear on its state flag to promote the importance of using power more efficiently. For two weeks this month, the bear is “traveling” around the state promoting energy efficiency. Energy Upgrade California launched a contest via social media so California residents can locate “Where the Bear” is–promoting energy efficiency in the state.

Image credit: Phil Konstantin

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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