Gov. Brown on climate change in CA: This is different

From Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State speech, on climate change:  


When we think about California’s future, no long term liability presents as great a danger to our wellbeing as the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

According to the latest report from the World Bank, carbon dioxide emissions are the highest in 15 million years. At today’s emissions rate, the planet could warm by more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, an event unknown in human experience. California is extremely vulnerable because of our Mediterranean climate, long coastline and reliance on snowpack for so much of our water supply. 

Tipping points can be reached before we even know we have passed them. This is a different kind of challenge than we ever faced. It requires acting now even though the worst consequences are perhaps decades in the future. 

Again California is leading the way. We are reducing emissions as required by AB 32 and we will meet our goal of getting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. 

Key to our efforts is reducing electricity consumption through efficiency standards for buildings and appliances. Over the last three decades, these pioneering efforts have saved Californians $65 billion dollars. And we are not through yet. 

We are also meeting our renewable energy goals: more than 20% renewable energy this year. By 2020, we will get at least a third of our electricity from the sun and the wind and other renewable sources—and probably more.

Meanwhile the California Air Resources Board reports that the state's emissions of greenhouse gases from industry and electricity generation continues to fall:

California's industrial emissions of greenhouse gases dropped for the third straight year in 2011, according to figures released this month by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The decline adds to a so-far unbroken trend since CARB started tracking the emissions in 2008.

The figures include emissions from power plants, oil and gas production and refining, cement manufacture and a few other industrial processes. They do not include CO2 emissions from motorized transportation or from sources such as households and commercial businesses, which altogether account for about half the state's emissions.

According to CARB, the state's reported industrial greenhouse gas emissions totaled 111,044,931 metric tons of CO2 or its equivalent — down from 117,624,594 tons in 2010. The reduction, 6.58 million tons of CO2, is equivalent to taking 1.37 million cars off the road. Furthermore, 2011's emissions represent a drop in annual emissions of more than 22 million tons from 2008's levels. That's about a third of what humans worldwide emit each day.

This doesn't include car emissions, but it's still impressive, given the rise in emissions worldwide. 

Bill Whalen, a GOP speechwriter for Pete Wilson, called the speech "quirky." Uh-huh. Shrugging off the threat of the scorching of a state of 37 million as a matter of no matter.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised at the short-sightedness: Pete Wilson's embrace of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino proposition 187 was similarly myopic, and the beginning of the end for the GOP in CA. 

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