Jerry Brown, Governor of California, increased the climate-change targets of his state saying that by 2030, half of California’s power needs will be met from renewable resources.
He also committed that in 15 years, existing buildings will double their energy efficiency.
The Governor was also hoping to include another measure; to reduce consumption of petrol by half by 2050. However, this was defeated by companies with interests in oil. While he called this defeat a ‘short term’ setback, he asserted that weaning away from fossil fuels is imperative for an effective climate change program.
In a signing ceremony at the Griffith Observatory, Jerry Brown said, ‘What has been the source of our prosperity now becomes the source of our ultimate destruction, if we don’t get it off and that is so difficult’,
While the state’s laws are already one of the toughest in the world with regard to air quality standards, in 2006, the regulators had set a target of deriving 1/3rd of its energy requirements from renewable sources like geothermal, solar and wind by 2020. Regulators claim that they have already hit the 25% mark last year driven by large solar farms that came up in the desert and gigantic windmills set up along the mountain passes.
Alex Jackson, who is an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, opined that the new target is monumental and that for an economy as big as California to be able to target 50% of its power from renewable sources would be a game-changer.
Many experts believe that this 50% target is achievable by 2030; however, critics think that complex regulations that are required to hasten the transition could enhance unknown costs for businesses and consumers.
Senator Jim Neilsen of the Republican Party predicted that all things, especially food, which use affordable energy in the production process, will become more expensive and particularly make it harder for the least affording California families to live comfortably.
California’s utilities seemed very happy with this measure. This is because even though at present, they mostly employ nuclear energy, natural gas and a little coal, renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal are expanding and regulation allows these utilities to pass on costs to the consumer.
Additionally, the new regulation helps in the growth of these utility businesses as they would need to build more charging stations for EVs; this law entails penalties for those who do not meet set goals. Supporters of the regulation opine that families in California can keep saving money through offerings of subsidies and rebates for Electric Vehicle purchase, for installing double-paned windows or solar panels and for replacing inefficient electrical appliances.
Jerry Brown started off this year with an intention to pass a very aggressive legislation for greenhouse-gas emission standards in North America. However, he lost the battle against moderate Democrats in Sacramento, driven by lobbying by the oil industry, which funded a large marketing campaign that increased fear of loss of jobs if petroleum consumption was reduced.
However, Brown used his ‘executive’ authority to bring about increases in climate-change targets. He accused Republicans of doing little to reverse global warming and recalled Ronald Reagan, who initiated the Air Resources Board to manage the LA smog and Richard Nixon who signed off on the ‘Clean Air’ legislation.
Businesses would contribute about $2.2 billion to fund mass transportation measures including a high-speed rail system, to upgrade buildings, to enhance wetland and forestry conservation and to pay for appliance rebates. While many critics believe that all these measures will increase consumer costs, supporters opine that initial fears regarding economic damage were unfounded.