By David Siders, April 29, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown, touting what he called a “high bar” on climate
change, on Wednesday issued an ambitious new greenhouse gas reduction
target for the state.
The target, contained in an executive order
and expected to be folded into pending legislation, seeks to reduce
emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
goal is in line with one adopted by the European Union last year, and
proponents characterized it as the most aggressive in North America.
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,” Brown said in a prepared statement.
and business representatives, however, cautioned that the regulations
required to meet such a goal could raise the cost of doing business and
hurt low- and middle-income energy consumers.
Brown has said
California will meet or exceed its previous goal of reducing emissions
to 1990 levels by 2020, and he offered Wednesday’s goal as an interim
step to reducing emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
his executive order, Brown wrote that the 2030 target is “necessary to
guide regulatory policy and investments in California in the midterm,
and put California on the most cost-effective path for long-term
State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills,
previously introduced legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to
80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. She said Wednesday she will
incorporate Brown’s interim target into her bill.
requires the state to consider climate change impacts in California’s
five-year infrastructure plan and to assess how climate change will
affect California infrastructure and industry. It also requires state
agencies to factor climate change into planning and investment
In such decisions, Brown said in his order, “priority
should be given to actions that both build climate preparedness and
reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
The issuance of a more ambitious
carbon reduction goal has been expected since September, when Brown
said the state would meet its existing goal and that he would announce a
new one within six months.
A longtime champion of environmental
causes, Brown has argued that California’s policies – and climate-change
agreements forged between this state and other sub-national governments
– could help pressure heads of state as they prepare to negotiate a
climate change treaty in Paris later this year.
“I believe that from the bottom up we can make real impact, and we need to join together,” Brown said last year.
Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat and executive secretary of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a
prepared statement that Brown and California “have clearly understood,
internalized and articulated the science of climate change” and have
“aligned the state to the growing global understanding” of its
Environmentalists lauded the target. But their praise
of Brown – as on other matters in recent years – was tempered by
criticism of his permissiveness of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial
form of oil extraction.
Kassie Siegel of the Center for
Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute said in a prepared
statement that Brown “deserves credit for this important step towards
fighting global warming, but the governor continues to undermine his own
plans by backing fracking.”
Brown proposed dramatically expanding
California’s greenhouse gas reduction laws in his State of the State
address in January, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León announced
legislation the following month to enact much of the governor’s
The legislation would cut petroleum use in half by 2030
and expand, from one-third to one-half, the proportion of electricity
that California derives from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
De León said Wednesday that Brown’s target shows that California “leads the entire country” on greenhouse gas reduction efforts.
conservatives believe the effects of global warming are overstated, and
they object to the cost of environmental regulations.
the Republican state Senate leader, said in a prepared statement that
California’s carbon reduction goals are already the nation’s most
stringent and that “before moving the goal post, we should be careful
about the impact of increased energy costs.”
“At what point does
being on the leading edge of climate change and environmental reform
impact our ability to create or sustain jobs?” Huff said.
Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, said the 40
percent goal may be achievable, but he worries regulations designed to
achieve it could dramatically increase business costs.
question is how prescriptive are they going to be from a regulatory
standpoint?” he said. “That will determine how expensive it becomes.”
office announced the target as the Democratic governor traveled to the
Los Angeles area to speak on climate change, first at a conference on
climate policy and carbon markets in Los Angeles, then at a Milken
Institute conference in Beverly Hills.
At the Milken Institute, Brown criticized Republicans in Washington who are skeptical of climate change.
I think we really can appreciate here is through three governors – Gov.
(Gray) Davis, Gov. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger and now myself,” he said,
“there’s been a California effort that is unique, in that we have taken
steps ourselves to deal with reducing emissions.”