By Editorial Board, The Washington Post
ALMOST NO ONE is talking about it, but California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a hugely consequential bill this month. The law, SB 32, drastically ramps up the state’s landmark climate change law in the world’s sixth-largest economy. The world is watching closely: If California’s policy appears to be working, it will be copied in states and countries across the globe. Which makes it all the more important for state leaders to get it right.
California is well on its way to meeting its first emissions goal, set a decade ago, to cut the state’s carbon footprint to 1990 levels by 2020. That transition has been driven in part by traditional, command-and-control environmental regulations and in part by a statewide cap-and-trade system, which makes polluters pay for the emissions they produce. Despite some early doomsaying, this hybrid policy has not smashed the California economy. In fact, the state’s economy has grown faster than the rest of the country’s in recent years, as have wages. So far, the state’s experience appears to show that a major economy can transition off carbon dioxide without destroying its economic prospects.