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Gov. Brown sets ambitious emissions target for California amid worsening drought

A layer of smog hangs over early morning Los Angeles in southern California.

Governor Jerry Brown renewed California’s goals on greenhouse gas emissions today via executive order.

Already one of the most eco-conscious states in the nation— on paper, anyway— California must now aim to reduce emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years, the BBC reported. The move comes amid mounting water use restrictions designed to mitigate the potential water supply shortfalls as California moves further into the worst drought in 1,200 years.

"With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it's one that must be reached— for this generation and generations to come,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown was vague on how exactly the state would meet the proposed target, but the BBC did point out that he’d previously spoken on several occasions about the need to increase investment in renewable electricity capacity while curbing gasoline consumption in transportation and increasing overall energy efficiency of buildings across the state throughout the commercial, industrial and residential sectors.

California is the second largest polluter of all states in the nation, well beyond that contributed by all states by Texas. In 2012, California accounted for 446.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide— roughly 6.9 percent of the country’s total, according to the World Resources Institute.

While that’s certainly high for one out of 50 states, it should be pointed out that California also has 12 percent of the total American population, making the state’s per capita energy consumption relatively low.

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