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California Governor Sets Ambitious Climate Goals

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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The Golden State is getting even greener. On Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown set a new goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, using 1990 as a baseline.

It isn’t just the most ambitious state-imposed emissions goal in the U.S. but within North America. In this part of the world, California is the clear environmental leader.

The new target is the same as the one set by the European Union in October. As Gov. Brown stated during his inaugural address in January, “California has the most far-reaching environmental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.”

California is on track to meet or even exceed its current goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. It’s a goal set into law in 2006 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The new goal of a 40 percent reduction will enable the state to reach its target of reducing emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached – for this generation and generations to come,” Gov. Brown said.

Gov. Brown's executive order directs state government to do several things, including:

  • Incorporate climate change impacts into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan.

  • Update the state’s climate adaptation strategy, called the Safeguarding California Plan, to identify how climate change will affect California’s infrastructure and industry and what the state can do to reduce climate change risks.

  • Factor climate change into stage agencies’ planning and investment decisions.

  • Implement measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce GHG emissions.

During Gov. Brown’s inaugural address back in January, he made it clear that California will continue to be an environmental leader, setting three new environmental goals for 2030:

  • Increase the electricity from renewable sources from one-third to 50 percent

  • Reduce the petroleum used in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent

  • Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner

PG&E and California residents support emissions reductions


California’s new emissions reductions goal is supported by Pacific, Gas and Electric (PG&E), one of the state’s largest utilities. “We stand with the governor to do our part to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions levels in the electric and gas sectors,” said PG&E Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley in a statement.

The residents of California are concerned about climate change, as a recent report found. According to DDB’s Life Style Study, 59 percent of Californians are “very concerned” about climate change, compared to 48 percent of Americans in other states. Clearly, the state government is doing a good job of conveying the need for action to reduce emissions.

Image credit: Flickr/CoCreatr

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-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 Mashable.com.

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