On October 5th the USC Schwarzenegger Institute partnered with the California Museum in Sacramento to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passage of AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the landmark law which requires California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to 1990 levels by the year 2020.
Governor Schwarzenegger was joined by Governor Jerry Brown, Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, Chair of the Air Resource Board Mary Nichols, and the legislative leaders who authored AB32, Speaker Emeritus Fabian Nunez and Senator Fran Pavley for the event in the California Museum’s courtyard. The leaders addressed a crowd of 300 invited guests from business, academia, NGOs, and government who supported the passage of AB32 ten years ago and who continue to contribute to California’s global leadership in fighting climate change.
The program was opened by USC Schwarzenegger Institute Global Director Bonnie Reiss and Museum Board Chair Richard Costigan, who both expressed pride at being part of the Schwarzenegger administration team that fought to pass AB32. They highlighted the fact that Californians accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that proves climate change is not a hoax, nor a problem that can be kicked down the road, but one that impacts us now. From the millions of deaths each year caused by the pollution created by burning fossil fuels, to the now year-long wildfire season, to living through a terrible drought, Californians have firsthand experience of the devastating impact climate change has had on the lives and health of their families, community and on the economy.
The political leaders then took turns explaining how 10 years after the passage of the GHG reduction legislation and implementation of California's cap and trade program it has been proven that policy makers can protect the environment and health of its citizens while supporting jobs and economic growth. Governor Schwarzenegger applauded the many leaders responsible for California's climate and clean energy leadership and especially acknowledged Governor Brown for bringing solar, wind and renewable energy to California's attention during his first gubernatorial term in the 1970s. Governor Schwarzenegger and the other lawmakers also discussed the uphill battle to pass climate regulations and said that when AB32 was passed critics said that it would severely hurt the California economy. Governor Schwarzenegger pointed out how wrong this prediction was by citing the half million green energy jobs that have been created since the passage of AB32 and by acknowledging the fact that California’s GDP growth rate has been double that of Texas and United States.
Governor Brown talked about how this issue transcends politics, stressing that "it is about human survival". Senate Pro Tem De Leon, who has been one of the State’s leading environmental champions, led the effort to invest cap and trade funds in our state's lower income regions, and how this has enabled California to not just to grow our economy but provide good paying jobs to those most in need. The Senate Pro Tem then went on to credit the passage of AB32 to the leadership of Speaker Emeritus Nunez and Governor Schwarzenegger and he honored them both with Senate resolutions for their action.
All speakers agreed the fight to address climate change, reduce GHG emissions and a move to a 100% clean energy economy is still far from complete.
The event’s overarching message that California has proven that you both fight climate change and support growth was well covered in the press:
The Sacramento Bee, "Arnold Schwarzenegger back in Sacramento, says California ‘terminated’ climate change opponents"
POLITICO, "Brown, Schwarzenegger say landmark climate change bill boosted state's economy"
CBS News, "Gov. Brown And Schwarzenegger Champion Curbing Of Greenhouse Gases"