Governor Brown's New Climate Offensive in Five Jerryesque Quotes

Governor Brown discussing his new greenhouse gas targets in Los Angeles.  (Credit: Milken Inst.)
Governor Brown discussing his new greenhouse gas targets in Los Angeles. (Credit: Milken Inst.)

Governor Jerry Brown is pursuing a new set of targets for reducing the amount of greenhouse gas released in the state.

Here’s the Associated Press write-up, and this from the Los Angeles Times.

But in a nutshell:

Brown’s plan is an extension of the state’s original “AB 32” goals – passed into law when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor – that called for the state to return to its 1990 levels of carbon pollution by 2020. A follow-up Schwarzenegger plan tightened the screws even further, calling for an eighty-percent reduction by 2050.

Yesterday's executive order sets a concrete "intermediate target" between those two goals. By 2030, Brown wants California – “the state of imagination” as he put it -- to be putting out 40 percent less greenhouse gas than we did in 1990.

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Speaking at the Milken Institute in Los Angeles, Brown compared the fight against climate change to World War II, railed against climate change deniers in Washington, and suggested Californians might need to open their minds to the idea of drinking recycled toilet water, among other things.

Some highlights:

Expressing contempt for lawmakers in Washington who still debate whether climate change is real or driven by human activity:

“In California, there is something called global warming. We’re four degrees warmer than we were historically. Our forest fire season is months longer. It’s almost year-round. This is real stuff.”

The new plan is ambitious, sure, he said. But we’ve done it before.

“When Hitler was marching on Germany [sic], we didn’t have any airplane factories going and tank factories. But with Roosevelt leading, we transformed the whole economy. Dealing with the threat of climate change is going to require an analogous mobilization."  

Meeting the new goals and responding to California's epic drought will require cleaner cars, greater energy efficiency, and coming to terms with new sources of drinking water that may make some Californians squeamish.

“They don’t like to think of toilet to tap. You know, like drinking your toilet water. But you can make it as clean as the water on that table! You have to confidence in this filtration system!”

Comparing the slow crisis of climate change to headline news like the recent events in Baltimore:

"You’ve got the problems in the Middle East, Iranian nuclear deal and all that…we’ve got violence in Baltimore. Those are hot and they’re immediate. But we’ve got a slow, rolling crisis that if we don’t deal with it, before we know it we will have passed a tipping point, an irreversible tendency that will be melting the Antarctic ice cap in Greenland, raising sea level, causing temperature rises. I don’t want to go through all the parade of horribles. But it’s serious, it’s catastrophic and it’s longer term.

And finally, whether he, a self-described “old fogey,” can appreciate the kind of radical innovation it will take for Californians to find solutions for its drought woes and other environmental crises:

“I’m very optimistic on California because we’re not bound by the obvious. We’re not hampered by so many old-fogey ideas. And even though I’m kind of an old fogey, I’m still a radical thinker when it comes to California and what we can do.”

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Brown has not specified how to achieve his new emissions target. His 2030 target adds to an ambitious list of climate goals that he outlined in his State of the State address in January.

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