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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

California Motors Ahead on Climate Policies

SACRAMENTO (CN) - All new cars sold in California will be emission-free by 2050, according to a nonbinding international agreement signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

California and 12 other governments, including Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom, signed the nonbinding "zero-emission vehicles pact" two days before Brown was to travel to Paris for a United Nations conference on climate change, where he will continue to push the Golden State's climate change agenda.

State officials said the pact "will accelerate growth" in electric vehicle sales and spark other states and countries into adopting more stringent emission standards.

"Cleaner vehicles will help California and the world combat the threat of climate change," California Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez said in a statement. "California is a leader in the growing market for zero-emission vehicles, with half of the zero-emission vehicles on U.S. roads."

Since returning for a third term as governor in 2011, Brown has aggressively pushed climate change legislation. In 2012, he issued an executive order requiring the Legislature to help increase the number of zero-emission vehicles on the roads, with a goal of 1.5 million of them on California roads by 2025.

Regulators estimate there are more than 155,000 zero-emission vehicles registered in California - nearly half of the nation's total.

In September, Brown had to water down legislation that would have cut gasoline consumption by 50 percent by 2025. The Democratic governor was forced to remove the gasoline clause to get the weakened climate bill through the Legislature after what he called a "titanic struggle" with the oil industry. But he promised he would not stop trying to influence climate change legislation in California and worldwide.

Brown has discussed global warming with Pope Francis, sent Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson a PowerPoint lesson on climate change, and calls global warming an "existential threat" to the world.

Californians continue to view climate change more seriously than most Americans, according to a recent nonpartisan poll. A Public Policy Institute of California poll found 57 percent of California participants view climate change as a "very serious" problem compared to 45 percent of adults nationwide.

On Thursday Brown delayed his trip to Paris by a day to visit San Bernardino, after the mass murders there.

Brown and dozens of state lawmakers and officials will join more than 190 nations in Paris for the two-week climate change conference. On Monday, President Obama called the conference a "turning point" in the world's fight against climate change, calling it a threat that "could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other."

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