California has taken a significant step in fighting global warming after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new bill designed to reduce the state's carbon footprint dramatically over the next 15 years.
The new legislation, known as SB 32, aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in California by as much as 40 percent below levels recorded in 1990 by 2030. This goal is considered to be more ambitious compared with the previous target of lowering carbon emissions to match those of 1990 levels by 2020.
During a ceremony in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 8, Gov. Brown described the goals of SB 32 as both farsighted and far-reaching. He said that California is trying to accomplish something that no other state in the country has done.
With the adoption of the new law, it is expected to change various aspects of life for Californians. These include where people will live, how they are able to get to work, how food is produced and where the state will get its supply of electricity.
Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), explained that the key to achieving the target depends on being able to maintain regulatory efforts across all economic sectors in the state.
So far, California is well on its way to meet the 2020 climate target of reducing carbon levels in the state to match those recorded in 1990. The government has made efforts to cut emissions significantly such as limiting the amount of carbon included in diesel and gasoline products, encouraging people to buy zero-emission vehicles and placing a tax on pollution.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) said the state now intends to build on these achievements and beef up its climate change efforts.
Plans include increasing the use of electricity from renewable sources, improving energy efficiency in buildings and putting as many as 1.5 million zero-emission cars and other vehicles on roads around California.
Opposition From The Oil Industry
Before the signing of SB 32, supporters of the climate change legislation had to overcome strong opposition from the oil industry. Some Democrat Assembly members have even blocked another bill that would have limited the use of oil products in California.
The California Chamber of Commerce said SB 32 places severe restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions in the state without considering how it will potentially affect the economy and residents of the state.
California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) president Dorothy Rothrock said manufacturers in the state already face energy costs that are higher compared with those of their counterparts in other states.
She said that adopting a new climate change target without providing cost-effective options could contribute to the struggles of manufacturers.
Carlson, however, pointed out that the clean-energy industry in California has flourished over the past few years since the state adopted greener policies a decade ago.
She said that this demonstrates how governments can reduce greenhouse gas emissions but still experience significant economic growth.
In 2015, Gov. Brown released an executive order to adopt the new climate goal for 2030.
Thursday's ceremony also saw the governor sign a companion bill that gives California more legislative oversight regarding the CARB. It also provides more aid to areas in the state affected by climate change the most.