Brown said climate change would factor into government planning, and he ordered state agencies and departments to implement measures to reduce emissions. Brown called for an update to the Safeguarding California Plan — the state climate adaption strategy — to identify how climate change will affect infrastructure and industry and what actions California can take to reduce the risks of climate change.
The 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 has set the same target for 2030.
California already has been moving toward an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 under a 2005 executive order by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
At his inauguration in January, Brown said he wanted to take steps to increase renewable energy use to 50 percent in the next 15 years. He called for the state to increase renewable electricity sources, reduce petroleum use in vehicles, double the energy efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner by 2030.
Brown's action comes amid equally aggressive efforts aimed at fighting the state's historic drought, which has been California's primary environmental concern in recent months.
Brown's order was posted on the governor's official website, along with praise from a variety of world figures. Among them was Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has emerged as a major funder of environmentally focused political campaigns:
"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."
Despite being a political hero to the environmental movement in his first stint as governor in the 1970s, Brown has gotten harsh criticism from conservationists recently for his refusal to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil.