Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half.

“With this 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,” said Governor Brown.

This executive action sets the stage for the important work being done on climate change by the Legislature.

The Governor’s executive order aligns California’s greenhouse gas reduction targets with those of leading international governments ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year. The 28-nation European Union, for instance, set the same target for 2030 just last October.

California is on track to meet or exceed the current target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as established in the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). California’s new emission reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 will make it possible to reach the ultimate goal of reducing emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. This is in line with the scientifically established levels needed in the U.S. to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be major climate disruptions such as super droughts and rising sea levels.

World Leaders React

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres: “California and Governor Brown have clearly understood, internalised and articulated the science of climate change and today have aligned the state to the growing global understanding of the step changes and strategies needed over the coming years and decades. Resolving climate change requires a swift peaking of emissions and a deep decarbonisation of the global economy by the second half of the century. California's announcement is a realisation and a determination that will gladly resonate with other inspiring actions within the United States and around the globe. It is yet another reason for optimism in advance of the UN climate conference in Paris in December.”

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim: “Four consecutive years of exceptional drought has brought home the harsh reality of rising global temperatures to the communities and businesses of California. There can be no substitute for aggressive national targets to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions, but 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.”

Premier of Ontario, Canada Kathleen Wynne: “I applaud Governor Brown's continued leadership on climate change. This shows the important role that sub-national governments can play in shaping a strong global agreement on climate change later this year in Paris.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “California’s 2030 goal to reduce carbon emissions is not only bold, it's necessary – for the economy and our future.”

NextGen Climate Founder Tom Steyer: “When it comes to climate change, California has emerged as a global leader – proving that we don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy. Today Governor Brown took that leadership to the next level. By setting an ambitious and achievable target to reduce emissions of climate-altering pollutants 40 percent by 2030, Governor Brown is setting a course that will build upon the hundreds of thousands of good paying advanced energy jobs in California, improve the health and wellbeing of Californians and continue our global leadership to solve the greatest challenge of our generation.”

Princeton University Professor Michael Oppenheimer: “Governor Brown’s ground-breaking commitment not only shows that solving the climate problem goes hand-in-hand with economic growth and technology leadership, but points the way toward a climate solution for other states and the world.”

Climate Adaptation

The executive order also specifically addresses the need for climate adaptation and directs state government to:

  • Incorporate climate change impacts into the state’s Five-Year Infrastructure Plan;

  • Update the Safeguarding California Plan – the state climate adaption strategy – to identify how climate change will affect California infrastructure and industry and what actions the state can take to reduce the risks posed by climate change;

  • Factor climate change into state agencies’ planning and investment decisions; and

  • Implement measures under existing agency and departmental authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

California’s Response to Climate Change

In his inaugural address earlier this year, Governor Brown announced that within the next 15 years, California will increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources; reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent; double the efficiency savings from existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner; reduce the release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries; and manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon.

Since taking office, Governor Brown has signed accords to fight climate change with leaders from Mexico, China, Canada, Japan, Israel and Peru. The Governor also issued a groundbreaking call to action with hundreds of world-renowned researchers and scientists – called the consensus statement – which translates key scientific climate findings from disparate fields into one unified document. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in California and will disproportionately impact the state's most vulnerable populations.