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Environment & Science

Paris climate accord: How California could fill the gap




BYRON, CA - MAY 16:  Rows of wind turbines are seen at the Altamont Pass wind farm May 16, 2007 in Byron, California. According to the online resource SustainLane Government, Oakland, California is well on its way to meeting a California mandate that calls for 20 percent of elctricity purchases to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. Oakland currently leads the nation in green energy by drawing 17% of its electrical power from renewable sources such as solar, geothermal and wind turbines. Much of Oakland's electricty comes from one of the worlds largest wind farms along the Altamont Pass near Livermore, Califonia. The wind farm spans over 78 square miles with over 5,400 wind turbines capable of powering up to 180,000 homes.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BYRON, CA - MAY 16: Rows of wind turbines are seen at the Altamont Pass wind farm May 16, 2007 in Byron, California. According to the online resource SustainLane Government, Oakland, California is well on its way to meeting a California mandate that calls for 20 percent of elctricity purchases to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. Oakland currently leads the nation in green energy by drawing 17% of its electrical power from renewable sources such as solar, geothermal and wind turbines. Much of Oakland's electricty comes from one of the worlds largest wind farms along the Altamont Pass near Livermore, Califonia. The wind farm spans over 78 square miles with over 5,400 wind turbines capable of powering up to 180,000 homes. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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The announcement came down Thursday: The US is out of the Paris Climate Accord.

https://youtu.be/deTcuNgKN-E

The international agreement links nearly 200 countries in a global effort to reduce the causes and impacts of climate change.

But now, California is uniquely positioned to become the flag bearer in the fight against climate change.

For more on California's possible role, Take Two spoke to Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA.

California policies go global

California has one of the most ambitious statewide goals for reducing its climate emissions and it has policies in place already that it has developed from scratch to help meet those goals. It has the first cap and trade program in the country. It has clean car standards, so when you drive a car now in the United States it's subject to an emissions standard for greenhouse gases that was developed first here in California. 

It's doing so to be a model for others so that others can come here, look at our policies and adopt them back home if they want to.

International coalition work

California has partnered with cities and provinces from around the world to set and meet certain emissions standards. It's called the Under2 Coalition and it could now be expanded. 

I think California is working to expand it regardless of whether we pull out. As it stands, the members of the Under2 Coalition represent more than one-third of the world's GDP. It continues to expand, and those countries share things like pathways to 2050 decarbonization and tools to track their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Research and development

I think one of the things we're likely to lose at the federal level... is robust funding for research and development to help us create technological solutions to the problem of climate change. Those might be renewable energy breakthroughs, or ways to store energy in batteries or other technologies that make the pathway to decarbonization much less expensive and much easier. 

If we're not getting that funding from the Feds, I think it's possible that California may step up to the plate. It certainly doesn't have the deep pockets of the Feds, but it could do a lot to backstop that funding. 

Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview. 

This post has been updated.