California legislators defied both America’s science-denying president and its hyper-partisan political mood on Monday, voting overwhelmingly to extend a precedent-setting greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade program in the country’s richest state and world’s sixth largest economy through to 2030.
Eight California Republicans broke with their party and with President Donald Trump’s contention that climate change is a “hoax” to pass the critical legislation by margins of more than two to one in both the state assembly and senate. The vote keeps alive the United States’ first and so far only emissions permit trading market, created in 2006 but originally authorized only until 2020.
The extension was strongly backed by California Governor Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk. Its passage secures “a key tool for meeting the state’s ambitious goal for slashing emissions,” the Los Angeles Times reports, while raising “important revenue for building the bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, another priority for the governor.” State lawmakers also passed a companion bill aimed at reducing ground-level air pollution from fossil fuel use.
“California Republicans are different than national Republicans,” state assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes, who voted for the legislation, told the Times. “Many of us believe that climate change is real, and that it’s a responsibility we have to work to address it.” By no means did all California GOP state representatives share that view, however: most voted against the extension.
Still, the vote reflected a “broad consensus” among Californians that “global warming merits a response,” pollster Mark Baldassare observed. “While Democrats are more supportive of climate change policy than Republican voters overall, there’s a substantial number of [California] Republican voters [who say] climate change is real and the state should be acting.”
Former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the state’s first cap-and-trade law into being, said the vote “fills me with tremendous pride.”
““California is once again showing Washington, D.C., and the rest of the world, that fighting climate and air pollution is the right thing for our health, economy, and future,” said Fred Krupp, president of the U.S. Environmental Defense Fund, which had backed the bill.
“This key policy victory—which was achieved thanks to a collective outpouring of support from businesses, investors, NGOs, public figures and concerned citizens like you—solidifies California as a global model for climate action,” added Ceres California Policy Director Kirsten James. “It shows how states can step up and lead on climate as the federal administration retreats, and it shows the power of the economic case for smart climate policy.”
California’s decision also provides a more secure future for emissions cap and trade programs in Canada. Ontario and Quebec have linked their provincial emissions cap and trade markets with the California system; Manitoba and British Columbia are considering doing the same. With California’s economy dwarfing all of Canada’s, those links provide important support for the much smaller provincial markets in emission permits.
In the lead-up to the vote, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) mobilized more than 200 business leaders behind the cap-and-trade extension. “It’s up to California lawmakers to keep our state’s burgeoning clean energy industry and the jobs that come with it growing,” said Western States Advocate Mary Solecki. “Especially given the backpeddling on clean energy and climate by the Trump administration, California businesses and investors are desperately seeking clarity on cap-and-trade so they can plan to grow, invest, and hire more employees.” [Disclosure: The Energy Mix curator Mitchell Beer is a member of E2.]