California clean energy advocates and Brown administration officials should be cheered by the European Union's announcement that they will cut greenhouse gas emissions by "at least" 40 percent by 2030, a doubling of their current trajectory of 20 percent by 2020. Cuts are measured from 1990 levels.
Demystifying these numbers, this means that the 28-nation European bloc will take major enforceable steps to cut carbon use in the next fifteen years consistent with the United Nations goal of staving off worse-case climate chaos by mid-century. The European announcement will be followed early next year by declarations from other countries as talks continue towards a possible global climate agreement by 2015.
The Obama administration's current goals are 30 percent cuts in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions by 2030, significantly slower than the European projections. Since fifteen percent cuts already were achieved by the US by 2013, the stated US EPA goals amount to only another fifteen percent over the next fifteen years. This US policy has been criticized as too little in Think Progress, an outlet for the Center for American Progress, a think tank close to the Obama administration.
The Brown administration can move the global process forward by example. So far the governor's office has hinted it will release its 2030 goals "early next year," according to a spokesman. The governor is being urged to double the pace of emissions reductions by 2030 in keeping with an Air Resources Board warning that an acceleration is necessary. (See letter from Tom Hayden, Dan Jacobson, John White, Anne Baker, et al, Aug. 6).
With multiple clean energy pacts with other states and nations, many others will copy the California goal. However, fierce resistance from the fossil fuel industry is mounting, with television ads blaring that gasoline costs will raise starting in January because of the state's environmental laws.