California Governor Jerry Brown has issued an executive order that calls for California to reduce carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. That exceeds the current goal of reaching 1990 emission levels by 2020.
Brown says the state is not alone in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
"I’ve personally met with and discussed this with the President on China. And many of his high officials in departments have signed a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with me,” he says. "The same is true with Québec, British Columbia, Mexico, Peru and in some of the states in Germany"
Daniel Sperling directs the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.
"China is making lots of investments in renewable energy and low-carbon. They’re implementing cap and trade programs. So they are doing a lot. Europe is doing a lot. Japan’s doing a lot. Korea’s doing a lot," he says. "But what California is doing is being a leader for the US and for the world."
Sperling says improving energy efficiency will provide benefits to consumers, which will help the state’s economy. But he says the new standards might also create uncertainty, which could make businesses nervous.
Several bills currently in the state legislature would strengthen environmental laws as well. They include a measure that calls for reducing the amount of petroleum and increasing the amount of renewable energy the state uses by 2030. The California Chamber of Commerce calls the bill a "job-killer."
The Republican leader of the California Senate says the state already has the nation's most stringent goals. He says lawmakers should think carefully about the cost of toughening emissions standards.