Guest Blogger Ken Alex: Climate Solutions

Post #12 in a Series on California Climate Policy by Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown

[This is the second-to-last post in a series expressing my view of why California’s actions on climate change are so important and how they will change the world. The introductory post provides an overview and some general context.]

As discussed in the previous blog posts, through the ARB Scoping Plan, the 5 pillars of climate action set out by Governor Brown in his 2015 State of the State address (50% RPS, double energy efficiency in buildings, cut oil use in transportation in half, limit SLCPs, and make working and natural lands carbon sinks rather than sources), and the 2 additional pillars (resilience, carbon capture), California has an economy-wide blueprint to reduce GHG emissions by 40% in twelve years.  The question is how to ensure that those actions have an impact far beyond the state borders.

California will continue to focus on action in the state.  Success will promote further action.  Technology breakthroughs will be exported.  We see that with renewables, storage, and zero emission vehicles.  California is an innovation engine that can drive both technology and cost.

California needs to continue to promote and promulgate smart regulations.  The state’s modest procurement requirement for energy storage has had a worldwide impact.  Done well, regulations and mandates provide incentives, stability, market signals and promote the creation of industries.  Without the RPS, for example, renewable energy would not have developed in the same manner or as quickly.

While the focus of action is within the state’s borders, California also needs partnerships both in state and outside.  California’s cap and trade market is linked with Quebec and Ontario, but adding more jurisdictions will increase its impact.  China has now started its nationwide cap and trade market, with a significant assist from California.  It is too soon to consider direct linkage of the markets, but the Chinese market launch reflects the outsize impact of California’s actions.  In conjunction with the World Bank, California is also working with jurisdictions in North and South America on expanding carbon markets in the region.

We also need to target the most effective and most promising actions, and speed their adoption.  Solutions often take too long to get to scale.  I discussed the Under2 Coalition and other partnerships in the previous blog post.  These are essential for establishing pilot programs, building templates, scaling responses to climate change.

This year, California will provide the global showcase for action and solution – the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, on September 12-15, 2018.  That’s the subject of the next and final blog post in this series.

Ken Alex is the Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and serves as Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown and the Chair of the Strategic Growth Council.

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Reader Comments

4 Replies to “Guest Blogger Ken Alex: Climate Solutions”

  1. California could add another pillar; enhance biological carbon sequestration in coastal waters.

    There are a number of processes, but one step already underway is protection and restoration of kelp forests via sea otter restoration. Kelp forests are a significant carbon sink and the loss of sea otters to hunting has allowed sea urchin populations to explode, which destroy kelp forests. The existing otter population in California and Alaska is estimated to support 3 – 8 million tons of CO2 sequestration a year and it is at best a few percent of the historic population.

    So, when you do your California state tax return, check the box for otter restoration and make a donation.

    It’s something we all otter do.

    1. EPA’s Lack of Transparency Is a Breeding Ground for Junk Science

      Once again, BQRQ is easily duped by conservative media that tells him what he wants to hear. The only “lack of transparency” in any of these studies is in regards to data that can not legally be disclosed. More specifically:

      “Some of those studies, particularly those that determine the effects of exposure to chemicals and pollution on health, rely on medical records that by law are confidential because of patient privacy policies. These studies summarize the analysis of raw data and draw conclusions based on that analysis. Other government agencies also use studies like these to develop policy and regulations, and to buttress and defend rules against legal challenges. They are, in fact, essential to making sound public policy.

      The agency also relies on industry data to develop rules on chemical safety that is often kept confidential for business reasons.”

      “So why would he want to prohibit his own agency from using these studies? It’s not a mystery. Time and again the Trump administration has put the profits of regulated industries over the health of the American people. Fundamental research on the effects of air pollution on public health has long been a target of those who oppose the E.P.A.’s air quality regulations, like the rule that requires power plants to reduce their mercury emissions.

      Mr. Pruitt’s goal is simple: No studies, no data, no rules. No climate science, for instance, means no climate policy.”

      As is often the case, Republican politicians have crafted a narrative to hand to the gullible rubes to cloak their actual motivation which is servicing the desires of their big business donors.

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