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California's Destiny Inextricably Tied to Climate Change, Says Governor

In his final state-of-the-state speech on Thursday, four-term California Gov. Jerry Brown broke sharply with President Trump's nationalistic "America First" agenda, emphasizing that the state would continue on "a bolder path forward" tied to reversing the adverse impacts of climate change.

Brown emphasized the state's renewable energy footprint and said he intended to push to continue funding for the cap-and-trade program to reduce air pollution.

"Simply put, California is prospering,” Brown said. “We face our own share of difficulties, although now it is hard to visualize or even remember the hardships" from the 2009 recession. He dismissed those who argue that the "California dream is dead."

"Despite what is widely believed by some of the most powerful people in Washington, DC, the science of climate change is not in doubt," said the governor. "All nations agree except one and that is solely because of one man -- our current president…”

Brown said that when the legislature last year passed cap-and-trade legislation "it passed a far-reaching air pollution measure" that for the first time focused on pollutants that disproportionately affect vulnerable neighborhoods. State regulators this year plan to zero in on the communities that are disproportionately impacted by trains, trucks and factories.

Brown also touted zero-emission transportation, encouraging a state goal is to "make our neighborhoods and farms healthier and our vehicles cleaner" and reduce the carbon footprint.

"To meet our ambitious goals, we will need five million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030," he said, which would create jobs while improving air quality.

The cap-and-trade program is "an important tool," said California Climate Director Quentin Foster in response to the speech. He said Brown had demonstrated that carbon emissions can be reduced while growing the economy.

California Clean Energy’s Lauren Navarro, senior policy manager, lauded the push to continue energy innovation. "With ambitious goals to catapult clean energy and to create a western regional grid during his last year in office, his legacy will live on through a cleaner energy system, cleaner air, and a strong economy.”

Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd lauded the governor for setting "ambitious" standards. Zero-emission vehicles today "represent a very small percentage of California's nearly 26 million passenger cars at 300,000,” she said.

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