California is on the front lines of climate change with trees dying and wildfires raging on drought-parched land. Perhaps recognizing the urgency of acting on the growing menace from global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed sweeping climate change legislation that sets a more ambitious target for what was already the toughest greenhouse gas reduction goals in the nation. SB 32 requires the state to slash greenhouse gas emissions at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and AB 197 sets up a legislative committee on climate change policies to ensure that the climate targets are met.
“Climate change is real, and knowing that, California is taking action,” Governor Brown said at the signing ceremony. “SB 32 and AB 197 are far-reaching moves that continue California on its path of vast innovation and environmental resilience.” The signing ceremony took place at Vista Hermosa Natural Park in downtown Los Angeles, a 10-acre urban wilderness project built on top of an old oil field.
The state is already on track to meet or exceed the current emissions reduction target of 1990 levels by 2020, as established in the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). James Sweeney, director of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University, told The Los Angeles Times that in order to meet the more ambitious target, “we’re going to have to make the change about three times as fast as we’ve done so far.” The longer term goal remains the same: reducing emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
California is the number one state for solar energy with 13,942 megawatts of installed solar electric capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Last year solar surpassed wind and hydro to become the state’s top renewable energy source. California also leads the nation in the adoption of electric vehicles with more than 223,000 plug-in electric vehicles registered through June 2016. Cities are also setting ambitious climate targets. San Diego recently enacted the most ambitious climate action plan in the country, calling for slashing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions in half and going 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.