Rest of World Ignoring Gov. Brown, Calif. on Greenhouse Gases

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

“We will get it one way or another,” Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters in Philadelphia about spreading California’s climate policies across the world. The quote was in the Los Angeles Times, which reported, “Brown is facing political headwinds to protect California’s cap-and-trade program, the centerpiece of its efforts to battle global warming.”

And the paper reported on a new PPIC poll that supposedly found 68 percent of Californians want to continue to tax themselves into penury to pursue the greenhouse gas-less utopia of the current governor and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed into law AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Yet the developing world isn’t as eager to embrace poverty and deny itself the bounty carbon energy has brought America, Europe and Japan. Bob Hodge is a coal specialist with IHS Energy, a consulting firm. The New York Times reported in April that, according to Hodge, “there were 1,200 new coal-fired plants on the drawing boards in 59 countries, mostly in Asia, and China was the single largest contributor.”

The paper added that China is working to cut its new coal plants to zero “in many parts of the country, and construction of some approved plants will be postponed until at least 2018.” But, “The announcement does not stop projects already under construction, which amount to about 190 gigawatts of new coal-fired power generation.” Friends of mine who recently visited the PRC said its cities are choked with pollution.

By comparison, according to the California Energy Almanac, in 2015 California in-state generation of renewables was 21.9 percent of the California Power Mix, or 48 gigawatts. If that were increased to 50 percent, as mandated by state law by 2030, it would come to about 110 gigawatts.

Nationally, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “In 2015, renewable energy sources accounted for about 10 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and about 13 percent of electricity generation.”

I grew up in the Detroit area in the 1960s. My parents always remembered when “the smoke stopped” billowing out of the smokestacks at the River Rouge and other giant factories during the 1930s Great Depression, as the plants were idled and millions of factory workers were unemployed. That’s generally the attitude in developing countries today: they want the jobs and prosperity of industrialism, and cleaning up pollution can wait.

In America, the anti-pollution movement didn’t take off until the prosperous 1960s, although anti-smog efforts began earlier in California. “On Oct. 14, 1947, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established the nation’s first air pollution control program by creating the Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District,” recounts a history of what’s now called the South Coast Air Quality Management District on its website.

Last year’s Paris climate confab, also attended by Gov. Brown, produced nothing binding.

Californians like to think of themselves as global trendsetters, from Hollywood to iPhones. But the rest of the world is on its own schedule.

Longtime California commentator John Seiler’s email is: writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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