The California legislature took a major step Tuesday to more than double the state's greenhouse gas cuts signed into law under former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The bill, which passed 42-19, ratchets up the carbon pollution cuts from 15 to 40 percent, but changes the timing for reaching the goal from 2020 to 2030. The bill passed by one vote over the threshold required for legislation to pass in the Assembly. It faced substantial Republican opposition labeling it a business and job killer.
The 2006 bill passed under Schwarzenegger sought to reduce emissions to 1990 levels. The new bill seeks the same goal but accounts for the need for stricter targets.
Under the 2006 law, California is required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, which is "a reduction of approximately 15 percent below emissions expected under a 'business as usual' scenario," according to the state's Air Resources Board. Many scientists blame greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels for driving manmade climate change.
The now 10-year-old law was the first of its kind in the nation and a "watershed" moment for addressing climate change, according to the board that implements the law.
The bill that passed Tuesday will "continue California's leadership on climate change," said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount. The Sacramento Bee reported that the bill does not extend the cap-and-trade program that would implement the new target, but Rendon said the bill is "a piece of the puzzle" and he is committed to continuing the program.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has said the nation must do more to tackle climate change. He discussed California's leadership on the topic at the Democratic National Convention last month in Philadelphia, while touting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's support for addressing global warming.
"From her first day in office, President Hillary Clinton will do what's needed to combat climate change and lead the clean energy revolution," Brown said in addressing the convention.