Climate/Energy Language Gov. McAuliffe Should Include in His State of the Commonwealth Address

Monday, January 5, 2015

California Gov. Jerry Brown just delivered his State of the State address, and it was a good one. Below, I've excerpted a key section on climate and energy policy which I'd love to see our own Governor, Terry McAuliffe, incorporate into his upcoming State of the Commonwealth address on January 14. Yes, I'm well aware that a Republican-controlled legislature that is essentially a puppet of fossil fuel interests would not approve any of this. Still, given the crucial importance of these issues, I'd argue that Gov. McAuliffe should set ambitious goals for Virginia and challenge Republicans to articulate why they won't act. Given that Republcians have absolutely no good reason for not acting, it should be interesting to watch...
...The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, backed up by the vast majority of the world's scientists, has set an ambitious goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2050 through drastic reductions of greenhouse gases. If we have any chance at all of achieving that, California, as it does in many areas, must show the way. We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being. So far, we have been able to do that.In fact, we are well on our way to meeting our AB 32 goal of reducing carbon pollution and limiting the emissions of heat-trapping gases to 431 million tons by 2020. But now, it is time to establish our next set of objectives for 2030 and beyond.
Toward that end, I propose three ambitious goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years:
Increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources;
Reduce today's petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;
Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner.
We must also reduce the relentless release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries. And we must manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon. All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities.
I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles. How we achieve these goals and at what pace will take great thought and imagination mixed with pragmatic caution. It will require enormous innovation, research and investment. And we will need active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels.
Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels. This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.
California, since the beginning, has undertaken big tasks and entertained big ideas. Befitting a state of dreamers, builders and immigrants, we have not hesitated to attempt what our detractors have called impossible or foolish...
Again, why isn't Virginia doing any of this? What ever happened to becoming the "energy capital of the east coast?" So far, we certainly aren't seeing it, and that's a huge #FAIL for our state.