Jerry Brown's bold climate pledge: California to go 50 percent renewable in just 15 years

“We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” said Brown

By Lindsay Abrams
Published January 6, 2015 2:02AM (UTC)
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California Gov. Jerry Brown (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

California Gov. Jerry Brown's unprecedented fourth term in office is going to be all about fighting climate change.

In an inaugural address delivered Monday afternoon, the governor celebrated the "bold commitments to sustain our environment, help the neediest and build for our future" made since he first took office 40 years ago, and announced his intentions to push those reforms further, with an emphasis on environmental goals.


Specifically -- and in a move that's already being hailed by environmental groups -- Brown pledged to help California derive a full 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. That's a big step up from the state's already commendable mandate for utilities to purchase a third of their energy from renewables by 2020, which it's already on track to meet.

“We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” Brown said. And despite being a leader in environmental policies, he added, what California's been able to accomplish thus far is a far cry from what the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says will be necessary to limit warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

In addition to the new renewable energy goal, Brown said he plans to reduce the use of petroleum in cars and trucks by "up to 50 percent" and to double the energy efficiency of existing buildings, while working to make heating fuels cleaner.


"All of this is a very tall order," the governor acknowledged. But he listed a wide range of initiatives that he said could help transform the state for the better. They include "more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles."

"Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels," Brown added. "This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system."

Lindsay Abrams

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California Climate Change Gov. Jerry Brown Greenhouse-gas Emissions Renewable Energy