BY: JESSICA BEUKER
California is once again leading the world in climate action. Back in January, California Governor Jerry Brown made a promise to pursue a list of climate goals that were among the most ambitious in the world. He declared that by 2030, California would double the energy efficiency of state buildings, get half of its electricity from renewables and halve gasoline consumption by cars and trucks. Currently, the state is considering a number of bills to push his agenda even further. Not only are they aggressively proactive, but if passed, they will be protected by law.
According to Mother Jones, California is the world’s seventh-largest economy and a huge producer of greenhouse gas emissions – it ranks second for state emissions, behind Texas. Most of the emissions come from road transportation – one-tenth of America’s road emissions come from California alone. California is also the biggest consumer of gasoline.
In an effort to lower these numbers, the Global Warming Solutions Act was passed in 2006. The act set a target of reducing the state’s carbon footprint to its 1990 levels by 2020. Since the bill was enacted, gasoline consumption has gone down by 9 per cent – which is double the nationwide decline. Carbon emissions are also down, yet Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population numbers are rising, proving that strong economic growth and climate action can go together.
The new bills will push the state’s goals even further. According to Mercury News, Bill SB 350 aims to bring California’s gasoline consumption down, while Bill SB32 requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent below its 1990 levels by the year 2050. That means the new bill requires emissions to fall five times faster.
Neither bill includes specifics on how to actually achieve these numbers, but the state’s Air Resources Board (CARB) is required to turn in an enforcement plan by 2017. The target may include bettering fuel efficiency for cars, providing incentives for biofuels, pushing for electric vehicles and improving public transit.
The legislation is widely expected to pass before the end of session next week – but not without a fight from the oil lobby. According to Mother Jones, the biggest oil lobby – the Western States Petroleum Association – spent $8.9 million on lobbying last year alone.
If the bill does pass, then all it requires is Brown’s final signature to have it enshrined in law. With a strong history of leading climate change policies, California will once again take a giant step toward saving the planet – and will hopefully spark many other nations to follow.