In the quest to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, no state has done more than California. While records have been broken and standards have been set, much more can be done.
That was the message from California Gov. Jerry Brown to state leaders in January. In his inaugural address for an unprecedented fourth term, Brown challenged the Golden State to build on its many accomplishments and raise the bar even higher. In laying out the challenge, he first noted the state’s previous successes, describing its legal approach to climate change as “the most far-reaching environmental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction on the Western Hemisphere.”
Gov. Brown lauded the state’s landmark legislation, AB 32, enacted in 2006, which gave it a number of tools for addressing climate change. He noted that the state’s recently enacted cap-and-trade system, one of the results of AB 32, has already set an example for the rest of the world for how to properly price carbon emissions in a market that leads to innovation and greater reductions.
AB 32 required that California reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of approximately 15 percent. Additionally, California has a renewable energy portfolio of 33 percent, also to be reached by 2020. Brown noted that, while the state is on target to reach these goals, he wants it to do even more.
Toward that end, he challenged California to raise its renewable standard to 50 percent by the year 2030. In that time frame, he also wants to see a reduction in petroleum used in cars and trucks by 50 percent and a doubling of the energy efficiency of existing buildings.
Brown believes all of this is possible if California pursues a broad range of initiatives. These include more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, microgrids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution, and millions of electric and low-carbon cars.