California Governor orders America’s most ambitious climate targets

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30 April 2015

NEW YORK: Governor Jerry Brown Jr. has issued an executive order for California to establish North America’s most ambitious climate targets. Under the new order, the state must reduce its greenhouse gases by 40% - below 1990 levels - by 2030.

The new target aligns the west coast state with those of the world’s leading governments, even matching the bold Intended Nationally Determined Contribution recently submitted by the European Union ahead of the important COP21 in Paris.

"While many nations consider what their response to climate change will be, leading states and regions are moving forward, setting ambitious goals and backing them up with practical action," says Evan Juska, Head of US Policy, The Climate Group.

"As one of the largest economies in the world, California's contribution is important in it's own right, but it also sets an example for other sub-national governments and nations that strong climate action is possible and advantageous."

The 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 emission reductions,” states the order. Governor Brown commented: “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.”

A long-standing climate leader

California, a member of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance, is already on track to likely surpass its current goal to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, having long been a climate leader.

In 2006, the state famously established the first major government legislation to cut carbon emissions in the US, its Assembly Bill 32 law that initially set the above goals, which The Climate Group mobilized world leaders in support of.

The new target is particularly important because it sets a clear milestone for California to reach its ultimate goal of cutting emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In fact, according to recent studies, industrialized economies must pursue this target to help keep global temperature rise below 2 Celsius degrees below pre-industrial levels, the threshold to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system.

Including California, to date nine members of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance have committed to reducing their emissions by 80% below 1990 levels or more by 2050: Wallonia, Ontario, North Rhine Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Scotland, Wales, Connecticut and New York State.

Climate collaboration

Re-elected for his fourth mandate late last year, Governor Brown pledged a range of bold climate actions during his inaugural speech including increasing the electricity California gets from renewable sources from 33% to 50% by 2030.

Brown also announced California’s plans to cut petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50% and double the efficiency of the US state’s buildings.

Last year, California joined the Canadian province of Québec – another valuable member of The Climate Group States & Regions – to link their cap-and-trade markets, creating the first cross border market in North America.

The two regions are also holding a joint greenhouse gases emission allowances auction as part of the Western Climate Initiative's regional carbon market, which is now the largest of its kind in North America

“Today, California and Governor Brown have clearly understood, internalized and articulated the science of climate change,” commented Christiana Figueres, UNFCC Executive Secretary, “and today have aligned the state to the growing global understanding of the step changes and strategies needed over the coming years and decades.

“Resolving climate change requires a swift peaking of emissions and a deep decarbonization of the global economy by the second half of the century. California's announcement is a realization and a determination that will gladly resonate with other inspiring actions within the United States and around the globe. It is yet another reason for optimism in advance of the UN climate conference in Paris in December.”

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