California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is ordering his state to cut harmful carbon emission levels more aggressively than any other government in North America, as an historic drought grips the Western United States.
In an executive order issued Wednesday morning, Brown set a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, matching a target set by the European Union in October. Those targets are stricter than ones implemented under Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who aimed to reach 1990 emission levels by 2020 and then cut emissions a further 20 percent by 2050.
Brown said the state is already on track to meet or exceed Schwarzenegger’s goals. The new targets are far more ambitious.
“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,” Brown said in a statement announcing the new goals.
The order will incorporate planning for the impacts of climate change into California’s long-term infrastructure and financial planning. It also orders state agencies with jurisdiction over sources of greenhouse gas emissions to limit those emissions to hit the new targets.
Brown has made a response to climate change a cornerstone of his fourth and final term in office. In his inaugural address in January, Brown said California will derive half its electricity from renewable sources in the next 15 years. He also aims to reduce current use of petroleum in cars and trucks on state roads by half.
“We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” Brown said in his inaugural address. “Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels. This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.”
California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have signed a regional agreement to reduce carbon emissions, and Brown has signed separate accords with leaders in Mexico, China, Japan, Israel and Peru. Brown has argued those agreements could help force national governments — including the United States — to come to an agreement when the United Nations convenes a climate change conference in Paris later this year.
“California’s announcement is a realisation and a determination that will gladly resonate with other inspiring actions within the United States and around the globe,” Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat who serves as executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a statement released by Brown’s office.
The governor’s office also released supportive statements from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and prominent environmentalists, such as former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire liberal philanthropist Tom Steyer.
Brown is scheduled to discuss his executive order at events Thursday morning in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.