Climate

BREAKING: California Governor Calls For 50 Percent Renewable Power

CREDIT: AP/ Rich Pedroncelli

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his re-election while taking with reporters at his Capitol office in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014.

On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown gave the inaugural address for his unprecedented fourth term as governor of California. Brown used the speech as an opportunity to look back at how far the state has come since he was first elected 40 years ago, and to look ahead at the daunting tasks of the future.

Along the way California has been a nationwide leader and energy and environmental initiatives, and Brown used the occasion to lay out some ambitious targets as part of the speech’s broader focus on the importance of the state’s green agenda.

Brown listed three main goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years: First, to increase the amount of electricity the state derives from renewable sources from one-third to 50 percent. Second, to reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent. And the governor’s final goal is to double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner.

While all three of these are ambitious, the one with real teeth is the push for more renewable electricity. California currently has a goal of getting one-third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Brown just moved the conversation forward a decade. If this goal is adopted it could provide the kind of regulatory stability needed for clean energy sources to thrive and for investments to soar.

Speaking at length about the importance of these actions, Brown said that “taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels.”

He said he envisions a variety of initiatives in achieving these goals, including expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, battery storage and “the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles.”

Brown also said reducing methane and black carbon emissions is important, and that improving land use and preservation of forests and wetlands is critical to storing carbon.

“All of this is a very tall order,” the governor said. “It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities.”

Brown gave his first inaugural address 40 years ago when he took office as California‚Äôs 34th governor. He has been serving as the state’s 39th Governor since 2011. Having been around a while, and in all likelihood done seeking reelection to office, Brown opted to combine his inaugural address and state of the state into one surprisingly to-the-point speech.

“We are at a crossroads … the challenge is to build for the future, not steal from it, to live within our means and to keep California ever golden and creative,” he said.