California Governor Brown wants to increase renewable power and cut fossil fuel

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 5 minutes
6 January 2015

NEW YORK: California’s Governor Jerry Brown Jr. wants to increase the electricity the state derives from renewable sources from 33% to 50% by 2030.

Recently re-elected for his fourth mandate, Brown pledged a range of bold climate actions during his inaugural speech this week. He announced California plans to reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50%, double the efficiency of existing buildings, and make heating fuels cleaner over the next 15 years.

“We must also reduce the relentless release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries,” Brown said. “And we must manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon”.

Bold climate policy

California, a valuable member of The Climate Group States & Regions program, has a long story of tackling climate change with bold climate and energy policy action.

In 2002 it passed a law (reinforced by a new law in 2006) to make sure that “each electrical corporation would be required to increase its total procurement of eligible renewable energy resources by at least 1% per year, so that 20% of its retail sales are procured from eligible renewable energy resources”. The goal of 20% was then raised in 2008 to 33%, with all electric companies required to use 20% of retail sales from renewables by the end of 2013, 25% by the end of 2016, and then 33% by the end of 2020.

In 2006, the state also passed a law to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 – a reduction of about 15% below emissions expected under a ‘business as usual’ scenario.

“All of this is a very tall order,” Brown added in his speech. “It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities”.

The Governor will also give support to a wide range of clean energy initiatives, such as more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, battery storage, and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles.

“How we achieve these goals and at what pace will take great thought and imagination mixed with pragmatic caution,” Brown remarked. “It will require enormous innovation, research and investment. And we will need active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels”.

California leadership

Over the past three years California has paved the way for America's ‘cap-and-trade’ market, which is based on regulation that sets a limit on the greenhouse gases (GHG) each company can put in the atmosphere - reducing the ‘cap’ of 3% each year. Last November, the State held the first joint GHG emission allowances auction with the Canadian province of Québec, another leading member of The Climate Group States & Regions program.

“Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels,” Brown underlined. “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”.

“It is fantastic to see California continuing to lead the way with new bold initiatives on climate change, laying the foundation for a clear long-term vision of reduced carbon pollution and increased prosperity,” Amy Davidsen, US Executive Director, The Climate Group said. “We already know that green business is good business, and Governor Brown’s announcements will help expand low carbon investments, innovations and creativity further and faster for all."

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By Ilario D'Amato

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