California lawmakers have responded positively to President Obama’s Tuesday announcement of his sweeping environmental plan. The Obama administration’s attempt to curtail climate change is an action many say is long overdue.
The Obama administration plans to use government lands to develop clean energy, encourage investment in carbon reducing technologies, and force existing power plants into reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
California has been ahead of the game on progressive environmental policies. After years of preparation and legal battles, California launched a carbon cap-and-trade system in late 2012. It is a component of AB 32, state legislation to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board said in a statement to KQED that the environmental plan fit well with the state’s own conservation efforts.
“California benefits enormously from having the federal government step up with a climate program,” explained Nichols. “It can only enhance our activities if we have a strong federal partner.”
A report by the International Energy Agency shows that, without changes to current policies, the earth will warm by 3.6 to 5.3 degrees Celsius. On a conference call last Monday, Andrew Steer, president and CEO of World Resources Institute, told the San Francisco Chronicle that we are currently “failing” — that the last time the earth was 3C warmer, sea level was more than 20 meters higher than it is today.
In January, the Public Policy Institute of California released a report detailing the ways in which greenhouse gas emissions will have serious consequences for the state. According to the report, air temperatures across the state are projected to increase approximately 7 degrees over the coming century; sea levels are expected to rise 17 to 66 inches by 2100. With this, the frequency of extreme events such as heat waves, wildfires, floods, and droughts is expected to greatly increase.
“In San Francisco, we have long known that climate change is the most significant environmental issue of the 21st Century,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has expressed gratitude to Obama “for his leadership on this critical issue.”
Although not everyone agrees that Obama’s plans will benefit the nation, Obama has dismissed critics. He noted, mocking deniers of climate change science, that he doesn’t “have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society.”
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in an e-mail to CBS San Francisco that “with the Obama Administration taking the lead, now is the time for Congress to act. We must enact far-reaching legislation to cut pollution, expand clean energy jobs, boost our economy, and address the challenge of climate change once and for all.”