California took another ambitious step in its fight against climate change as Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below where they were in the year 1990.
It is the latest attempt by Brown to pass laws strictly regulating the energy use and emissions output of his state, despite pushback from energy and industry representatives in the state.
California has the toughest climate change laws in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal, and was ranked first among states prepared for climate change by Climate Central last year.
The bill, known as SB32, builds on the decade-old California Global Warming Solutions Act, which initially had the goal of reducing emissions to the same levels they were in 1990 by the year 2020.
The ultimate goal, the governor’s office said Thursday, was reducing emissions to 80 percent below where they were in 1990.
"Climate change is real, and knowing that, California is taking action,” Brown said.
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“What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching,” he added, according to the Los Angeles Times. “California is doing something that no other state has done.”
The new legislation plans on on increasing electric car use, improving energy efficiency, reducing industrial emissions, and increasing the use of renewable energy to accomplish its goals, according to NPR. But those plans may need to be expanded.
“It’s very clear that it’s going to require new tech and new fuels,” Shawn Yadon, CEO of the California Trucking Association, told the Times.
The law isn’t without its critics.
The California Chamber of Commerce said the law imposes caps on greenhouse gases without “any consideration to the impacts on our economy, disruptions in everyone’s daily lives, or the fact that California's population will grow almost 50 percent between 1990 and 2030.”
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California currently has 38 million residents and could grow to 44 million residents by the year 2030, according to the Times. It also ranks as the sixth-largest economy in the world, according to the report. The changes to the economy and industry will be far-reaching.
“It’s no longer the low-hanging fruit,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told the LA Times. ”We're going to have to attack it more vigorously.”
California emits about 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, according to the governor’s office, but Brown has made ambitious climate change legislation a key part of his legacy in the state.
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In October 2015 he signed legislation that will require the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 after a lengthy battle against energy companies.
In recent months he’s also campaigned at the United Nations and around the world for tougher climate change laws, and has said he hopes the environmental legislation passed during his tenure will serve as a model for the nation.
When California first passed its Global Warming Solutions Act, the law was the toughest in the country on greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
Brown signed Thursday’s legislation at a 10-acre urban park and “wilderness project” built on top of an old oil field in Los Angeles.