SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California Gov. Jerry Brown announced a new target Wednesday in the state's efforts to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Here are some things to know about what California is doing:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown announced a new target Wednesday in the state's efforts to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Here are some things to know about what California is doing:
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?
Brown set a goal for the state to reduce its emissions to 40 percent below what they were in 1990. Such targets have become symbolically important in the global conversation about climate change, and countries set 1990 as the benchmark year for climate change when they signed on to the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to address global warming.
The order comes ahead of a United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris in late fall.
The rules are likely to apply to municipalities and businesses rather than residents, but business groups warn that tougher standards will drive up the cost of fuel, housing, transportation and other necessities, hurting the working poor.
WHAT DID HE DO?
Brown's executive order is more symbolism than substance. He set the new target but did not lay out the specifics of how California will achieve it. Legislation already introduced this year with Brown's support aims to boost state utilities' renewable electricity use to 50 percent, use half as much gasoline on the road and make buildings twice as energy efficient as they are now.
The governor says the state will continue giving "maximum flexibility" to encourage private-sector innovation.
WHY DID HE DO IT?
Like his predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brown wants California to be seen as an international leader on climate change. He has signed carbon-reduction treaties with foreign countries, states and provinces and preaches the importance of reducing carbon emissions at every opportunity. Brown says unchecked climate change is an economic and social threat to California. Wednesday's announcement is another step toward those efforts.
WHAT HAS CALIFORNIA DONE?
The state's landmark cap-and-trade program puts a limit on the amount of heat-trapping gases companies can emit by requiring them to pay for each ton of pollution. The price is set at an auction. Companies that cut emissions below the cap can sell their leftover pollution permits to companies that release more greenhouse gases.
It has cost industrial polluters $2.3 billion so far and was expanded this year to include gasoline, natural gas, propane and heating oil.
The state is also a leader in setting building and appliance energy efficiency standards.