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The Riggs Report: Brown’s new green

Governor unveils aggressive new global warming target

Gov. Jerry Brown signaled Wednesday that he intends to stake his political reputation on new greenhouse gas reduction targets that his office called, “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America.”

How aggressive? Brown’s surprise announcement came in the form of an executive order that calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels, and to do it by 2030, just 15 years from now.

In a prepared statement, Brown spoke of the ambitious nature of the 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,” Brown said.

Brown’s order goes much further than the targets contained in AB 32, the landmark global warming measure signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during a ceremony on Treasure Island in 2006. That bill called for California to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

That has meant enforcement of stricter pollution standards, and the establishment of a cap-and-trade system in which larger polluters, such as refineries or power plants, can buy and sell emission credits to meet those standards.

Brown indicated that California is on track to meet the standards contained in AB 32, and said the ultimate goal is to cut emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The executive order, his office said, is intended to direct the state’s planning efforts toward meeting these targets.

Critics have long complained that California is putting itself at a competitive disadvantage by taking such a leading role in cutting emissions, arguing that one state’s efforts won’t materially solve a problem that is global in nature.

But Brown asserts that Calilfornia’s stance will influence other governments’ decisions. His executive order mirrors the emission reduction targets issued by the European Union last fall, and comes as world leaders prepare for what could be a pivotal United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris in late November and early December of this year. That conference is intended to develop a worldwide binding treaty on climate change.

Brown’s announcement included statements of support from several world leaders.

“The decision today by Governor Brown to set a 40 percent reduction target for 2030 is an example of climate leadership that others must follow,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

Brown’s office timed the release to ensure greater media coverage of a climate change conference he had announced he would attend later Wednesday at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.