California Gov Brown
California governor Jerry Brown signed an aggressive climate change bill into law in September. 

California is thinking big with a new climate change law. Over the next 14 years, the state must reduce its global warming pollution to a level 40 percent lower than it was in 1990.

James Sweeney of the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford, says achieving this goal will be a big undertaking.

Sweeney: “The biggest single thing that the state can be doing is continuing to promote energy efficiency.”

James Sweeney
James Sweeney

This includes designing and constructing buildings that waste less energy for heating, cooling, water, and lights. It also means getting hundreds of thousands of electric cars on the road.

And to meet such an ambitious goal, California will need to invest in clean energy. So Sweeney expects the state to use tax credits and incentives to promote solar and wind power.

In the process, California will likely become a learning laboratory for climate action.

Sweeney: “If you stretch far enough you may not meet the goal, but you will end up testing many different policy options, many different interventions, and you’ll be able to see which one of those works.”

And by sharing that information, California could help drive change around the world.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Rich Pedroncelli.

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