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Brown Promotes California Climate Efforts At UN

Gov. Jerry Brown is joining world leaders Tuesday at the United Nations Climate Summit, where he will discuss California's attempts to slow climate change through laws that put a monetary value on carbon emissions and the state's agreements with other governments to reduce emissions.

Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California's landmark global warming law in 2006, and Brown has aggressively enforced it. The law aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, partly by forcing companies to pay for their carbon emissions.

But Democrats, including the governor, have been criticized this year for his administration's decision to enforce the law by adding to the cost of gasoline for California drivers.


The so-called cap-and-trade program established under the 2006 law will be expanded from major industries to companies that produce consumer fuels, such as gasoline and propane, starting next year. Companies will have to install costly technologies to reduce their emissions or essentially pay for the right to pollute, passing those costs to consumers.

California's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office predicts that prices at the pump will rise 13 cents to 20 cents a gallon by 2020, but the increase could exceed 50 cents per gallon.

In a video message released ahead of the conference, Brown said governments must put a financial price on carbon.

"It's the consequences to health, to the economy and to our climate," he said. "We face an existential challenge with the changes in our climate. The time to act is now. The place to look is California. We're not finished, but we sure are setting the pace."

Brown appeared with Schwarzenegger at a climate summit in Sacramento earlier this month and recently signed into law several bills designed to boost the number of clean-air vehicles on California roads.


More than 120 world leaders are convening at the climate summit in New York, which aims to galvanize political will for a new global climate treaty by the end of 2015.

Over the weekend, a group of scientists released a report showing that carbon dioxide emissions rose 2.3 percent last year to 39.8 billion tons. The team projects that the burning of oil, coal and gas will boost emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2.5 percent this year, increasing global temperatures to levels deemed dangerous within 30 years.

Related: San Diego City Council Passes Climate Change Resolution On Party-Line Vote