Yesterday was a big day of celebration for climate advocates in California. AB 32 (Nunez), the state’s signature greenhouse gas reduction bill, was signed in 2006 — ten years ago to the day. It requires California to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The day was marked by a celebration at Sacramento’s California Museum, sponsored by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute. The “Governator” spoke, as did current Governor Jerry Brown, CARB chair Mary Nichols, Sen. Fran Pavley, Sen. Kevin De Leon, and former Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez.
You can watch the full video above, but some highlights involved a vigorous defense of California’s economic growth since AB 32 passed. Speakers noted that the state has just surpassed the United Kingdom as the world’s fifth largest economy and that California’s GDP of 4.2% in 2015 was twice the national GDP of 2%. So claims that AB 32 would tank the economy have been largely put to rest.
Still, there’s reason to be cautious about bragging too soon. The full force of our emissions reduction efforts has not been felt on our economy, other than some changes such as with fuels, more renewables, and the beginnings of an electric vehicle market. The 2020-2030 time frame will involve much more dramatic changes to our energy system and economy if we hope to achieve the targets.
It was also entertaining to watch Governor Schwarzenegger when Gov. Brown reminded the audience that the politically controversial Delta tunnels and high speed rail projects were launched on his watch. And Gov. Brown emphasized that we’re playing “Russian roulette” with the physics of extreme weather if we don’t act now.
So while yesterday was a day to celebrate, much work remains to be done. Fortunately, as the political showing yesterday indicates, we have powerful momentum and support to carry out the task.